Archive of Administrivia


Administrivia: All Secure!

WIST is now a secure https site. I’ve had a certificate to do this for a while, but never quite got around to fully implementing it in WordPress. But now all access to wist.info should automatically go to https://wist.info. It wasn’t a critical warning, since I do no commerce (and very little credentialing) here, but for the sake of Google SEO and overall Internet security, it’s taken care of.

And if that was all gibberish to you, no worries — it just means your browser’s scary warning about how this was an insecure site will no longer pop up.


Added on 13-Mar-19; last updated 13-Mar-19
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers, 4/2017

Time for another year’s “State of the WIST” post.  I last ran this report a year ago.

What’s happened over the last year?

Some changes that took place on the WordPress site this year:

  • I cleaned up the page design a bit — nothing radical, just some color and typography improvements.
  • Mobile phone access (that’s actually readable on a mobile phone)! Woot!
  • Behind the scenes, I’ve made some performance improvements (fixing some stuff that was dragging performance waaaaay down, but also putting some better technology in place).
  • I’m continuing to post one “graphic” / meme quotation each time I do my five. I’ve had to change from PixTeller, though (who changed their underlying system to suddenly become much less usable) to Canva.

Doing the Numbers

Let’s look at the numbers:

So continued progress. Generally speaking I post five quotes a day, every weekday — though, to be honest, that number was a lot spottier starting mid-2016 (due to new employment, then some more unemployment).

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the time frame):

Note that, as always, all of these are curated to some degree or another — digging out citations when possible, finding author photos, etc. No mass uploads for me.

Top Authors

Of the authors I have, who are the most quoted in WIST?

I had nobody new on the Top 10 Quoted Authors list this year, just some shuffling around within the stats, with Emerson rising to the top when I came upon a new trove of his quotations (the man was prolific, between his lectures and his journals). Runners-up (Bertand Russell, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Fuller, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King) are all within spitting distance of getting on the list if I run across a good source of unused quotes for them.

The Top Ten Author list is shown “live” in the sidebar (“Prolific Authors”).

Top Quotations

Here are the Top 10 Most Visited Quotations (with how they’ve changed since last year):

  1. ↑ (5,019, from 4,459) Robert Frost“The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942)
  2. ↓ (4,803, from 4,587) AeschylusAgamemnon, l. 179
  3. — (4,589, from 4,120) John SteinbeckNobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962)
  4. ↑ (3,688, from 2,635) John Kenneth Galbraith, “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963)
  5. ↑ (3,552, from 2,696) Bertand Russell“The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)
  6. ↓ (3,350, from 2,915) James Baldwin“In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) –
  7. ↑ (2,960, from 2,391) Molly Ivins“Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993)
  8. ↓ (2,797, from 2,631) Thomas Campbell“Hallowed Ground” (1825)
  9. — (1,815, from 1,660) Albert Einstein, (Spurious / Synthetic)

Nothing new on the list, just jockeying for position. That’s not surprising, since the numbers have gotten so big and have been tracked for so long.

Over the last year, the Top 10 viewed quotes were, according to Google Analytics:

  1. 803 views – John Kenneth Galbraith“Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963)
  2. 587 views – Isaac Asimov“A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980)
  3. 566 views – Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)
  4. 375 views – Albert Einstein“My Credo,” speech, German League of Human Rights, Berlin (Autumn 1932)
  5. 374 views – T. S. Eliot, Preface to Transit of Venus: Poems by Harry Crosby (1931)
  6. 358 views – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.“The Path of Law,” 10 Harvard Law Review 457 (1897)
  7. 301 views – Robert Frost“The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) –
  8. 294 views – Molly Ivins“Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993)
  9. 275 views – Theodore RooseveltLetter to Henry L. Sprague (26 Jan 1900) –
  10. 273 views – Martin Luther King, Jr.“The Trumpet of Conscience,” Steeler Lecture (Nov 1967)

Not surprisingly, a number of the new entries on the list above were quotes that have graphic images associated with them.

Who Are You People?

Google Analytics shows me my traffic was up this year, vs the last two, with each day 45 visitors (vs 32) making 50 visits (vs 37) and viewing 73 pages (vs 51).

I have another 25 (vs 19) people who get a daily email (via FeedBurner) of WIST content

Over in social media, I’m posting to Twitter (127 followers, up from 112), Facebook (31 likes overall, up from 25), and Google+ (roughly 66 followers, up from 26).

I also started posting the quotations with graphics on on Tumblr (1 whole person following!) and Pinterest (10 people following!).

Those numbers aren’t huge, by any means — but this is a labor of love, and it’s nice to see that some folk are finding it of use and/or interest.

Age-wise, for the blog the biggest cohorts are 18-24 and 25-34 (24% and 22% respectively); the other cohorts are about 10-15% each. In gender, 57% of the visitors are female.

85% of visits are by English-speakers; no other cohort gets above 1.25%. Nationally, 57% are from the US, another 8% from the UK, with India, Canada, and Australia rounding off the Top 5.

51% of visits here over the last year used Chrome (up), 23% Safari, 11% Firefox, 7% IE, 3% Edge. 48% were Windows users (down), 21% Mac, 15% iOS, and 13% Android.

 

The Year Ahead

I don’t currently have any major plans on WIST for the coming year, but some things i do have in mind:

  • Continue backfilling tags as I come across quotes that have captured my eye again. Maybe do some tag cleanup.
  • Doing another swing through the authors to give pictures to all who have at least 3 quotes.
  • Do another “are they dead yet?” sweep of the authors.

The biggest question mark I have is how changing to being employed again (whenever that happens, soon I trust) will change posting patterns again. We’ll see.

And that’s the end of the annual report. See you next year!


Added on 8-Apr-17; last updated 8-Apr-17
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Administrivia: Sorry for the Spotty Quotation Coverage This Month

fantasia-mickey-afloatI’ve not been as diligent on the whole “five quotes every weekday” thing as I’d like to be this past month. A combination of a new job (where I can’t get WIST work done during the day) and National Novel Writing Month (meaning I spend a couple of hours every night after work writing fiction as fast as I can) has interfered a lot with WIST this month.

That said, November is almost over, and December couldn’t possibly have any other conflicts on my time, right? Right?

Regular quotation publishing will resume shortly.


Added on 27-Nov-16; last updated 27-Nov-16
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Administrivia: WIST now supports mobile!

Mobile DevicesI’ve activated (and tweaked) the WordPress JetPack mobile theme for WIST, so that people on smaller mobile devices don’t get eyes strain trying to visit the place. If you visit on a mobile phone or any device below a certain resolution, you will get a streamlined version of WIST which should be much easier to read. If you want to shift back to the original, there’s a link at the bottom that says “View Full Site” that will take you there.

I am still having a few formatting problems, particularly with the humongous “WIST” logo at the top. My apologies for that — I’ll strive to fix it as soon as I can figure out how.

Please leave comments with any problems you are having. Thanks!


Added on 11-Sep-16; last updated 11-Sep-16
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Administrivia: We will be experiencing technical difficulties …

technical_difficultiesWell, not so much technical, as logistical.

I start a new job on Monday. As my schedule and my actual morning (afternoon, evening) work activities are a bit up in the air, as well as the technical resources I can apply during the day, the timing or frequency or size of WIST posts for the next several days may be … variable. I apologize in advance for any dearth of quotational goodness.

Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work. [Nil sine magno vita labore dedit mortalibus.]

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Satires, Book 1, Satire 9, l. 59 (c. 35 BC)

Source


Added on 8-Jul-16; last updated 8-Jul-16
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Administrivia: Better Living Through User Interface Tweaking

As those who visit the site should notice, I’ve made some design changes here to make things look a bit more modern and tidy, and (I hope) improve readability (through some different fonts and graphic elements).

If something looks crazy on your screen, or there’s some aspect of the site design that’s causing you problems, please let me know. Thanks!


Added on 6-Jun-16; last updated 6-Jun-16
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Administrivia: Off on holiday

I’m away on holiday this week. I will be publishing a few pre-queued posts each day, though, with full production back to normal next week.


Added on 21-Mar-16; last updated 18-Mar-16
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers, 3/2016

Time for another year’s “State of the WIST” post.  I last ran this report a year ago.

What’s happened the last year?

Some changes that took place on the WordPress site this year:

  • I made visible the quotation “topics” field, etc., which I’ve been adding for 2+ years now on new quotes (and backfilling on quotes that I edit). I’ve also been adding topics to the most popular quotations in the database.
  • I’ve started adding a meme / graphic to at least one quotation a day, using PixTeller. These have been pretty popular (in terms of views), though I haven’t seen any “in the wild” yet. I also have been backfilling graphics on the most viewed quotations in WIST.
  • I have extended the author pictures to all of them with at least four quotes in the system; all new authors get a picture, of course, and as I add quotes any for existing authors without a picture, I add it.
  • I added in a plug-in to show “possibly related quotes.” If nothing else, I’ve found it useful in spotting duplicates.

Doing the Numbers

Let’s look at the numbers:

Quotes and Authors 2016So continued progress. Generally speaking I post five quotes a day, every weekday. Sometimes I miss a day, but rarely (being unemployed helps with such projects). I’ve also combined duplicate quotations as I’ve found them.

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the time frame):

Quotes and Authors Graph 2016Note that, as always, all of these are curated to some degree or another — digging out citations when possible, finding author photos, etc. No mass uploads for me.

Top Authors

Of the authors I have, who are the most quoted in WIST?

Top 10 Authors 2016

I had nobody new on the Top 10 Quoted Authors list this year, just some shuffling around within the stats, with Shakespeare pulling ahead of Jefferson again. Runners-up (Bertand Russell, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Fuller, Abe Lincoln) are all within spitting distance of getting on there if I run across a good source of unused quotes for them.

The Top Ten Author list is shown “live” in the sidebar (“Prolific Authors”).

Top Quotations

Here are the Top 10 Most Visited Quotations (with how they’ve changed since last year):

  1. – Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 179 (4,587, from 4,530)
  2. – Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (4,459, from 4,019)
  3. – John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,120, from 3,331)
  4. – James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) – (2,915, from 2,550)
  5. ↑ Bertand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (2,696, from 2,400)
  6. – Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,696, from 2,430)
  7. ♥ John Kenneth Galbraith, “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963) (2,635)
  8. ↓ Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,631, from 2,430)
  9. – Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) (2,391, from 1,825)
  10. ♥ Albert Einstein, (Spurious / Synthetic) (1,660)

Over the last year, the Top 10 viewed quotes were, according to Google Analytics:

  1. John Kenneth Galbraith,  “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963) – 735 Views
  2. John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) – 586 Views
  3. Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) – 405 Views
  4. Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) – 297 Views
  5. James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) – 259 Views
  6. T. S. Eliot, Preface to Transit of Venus: Poems by Harry Crosby (1931) – 257 Views
  7. Aldous Huxley, “Sermons in Cats,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931) – 215 Views
  8. Charlotte Gilman, Suicide note (17 Aug 1935) – 204 Views
  9. James Baldwin, “Faulkner and Desegregation,” Partisan Review (Fall 1956) – 185 Views
  10. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The Path of Law,” 10 Harvard Law Review 457 (1897)180 Views, tied with …
  11. Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)180 views

Some overlap there, as you might expect, but definitely some up and comers from some more recently added quotations. 

Who Are You People?

Google Analytics shows me my traffic was flat this year — a precise match for the stats last year — with each day 32 visitors making 37 visits and viewing 51 pages. I have another 19 people who get a daily email (via FeedBurner) of WIST content. Over in social media, I’m posting to Twitter (112 followers, up from 92), Facebook (25 likes overall), and Google+ (26 followers). The social media aspect hasn’t taken off as I’d hoped, but, honestly, I’m not doing this (mostly) for the publicity. Though it would be nice. Tell your friends!

Age-wise, the biggest cohorts are 18-24 and 25-34 (a bit over 20% of the sessions each); the 55-64 cohort is at around 17%, and the other cohorts are roughly equal. In gender, 58% of the visitors are female.

87% of visits are by English-speakers; no other cohort gets above 1.2%. Nationally, 63% are from the US, another 7% from the UK, with India, Canada, and Australia rounding off the Top 5.

44% of visits here over the last year used Chrome, 20% Safari, 15% Firefox, and 14% IE. 54% were Windows users, 19% Mac, 13% iOS, and 10% Android.

The Year Ahead

I don’t currently have any major plans on WIST for the coming year, but some things i do have in mind:

  • Continue backfilling tags and graphics
  • Doing another swing through the authors to give pictures to all who have at least 3 quotes.
  • Do another “are they dead yet?” sweep of the authors.
  • I’m beginning to get an itch to redo the blog design. We’ll see.

The biggest question mark I have is how changing to being employed (whenever that happens, soon I trust) will change stuff. I may need to change to posting in the evenings, and the graphics may end up being reduced in number. We’ll see.

And that’s the end of the annual report. See you next March!

 


Added on 1-Mar-16; last updated 1-Mar-16
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Administrivia: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words (but shouldn’t use that many)

So I’ve been doing a graphic / visualization / meme for one quotation a day (out of the five I usually do) for a month now, and it seems to be both popular and pretty sustainable (at least until I get a job), so I will continue doing so.

You can see the list to date by clicking on the “Visual Quotes (memes)” link in the sidebar; I’m tagging each of them with a tag of “meme”. You can also visit PixTeller, which is where I’m building these; I think they’ve definitely improved since the first few I did as I’ve learned more about the tool and what works (and what doesn’t work as well).

If you have any suggestions for improvement in this effort, please leave me a comment.


Added on 13-Nov-15; last updated 13-Nov-15
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Administrivia: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

I’m trying an experiment. While I love the text format for quotations (it’s searchable, if nothing else), the fact is that the “hot” (and “cool”) thing in online quotations is the visual quotation / meme. I’m playing with a few tools to do this (there are a lot of online resources) to see if it’s a sustainable effort — i.e., if i can do them painlessly enough that I will do them on a regular basis (say, one each day).

I don’t plan on getting fancy — image of the person in the background, simple formatting, probably minimal citation. You can see an example here. I wish there were an easy way to include the link to the quote in the image, but that hand-transcribing of URLs is a pain in the neck for readers; a simple “wist.info” bug will have to suffice.

Feedback is welcome.


Added on 9-Oct-15; last updated 9-Oct-15
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Administrivia: You can now find quotations by topic in WIST

Well, in a lot of cases, at least.

I’ve been applying topic tags to quotations since the beginning of 2014. A year and a half later, that seems enough to make the feature visible.

Topics are key words associated with a quotation — sometimes words from the quotes themselves, often additional words. Topic tags can help you find quotations I’ve associated with the word “accomplishment,” for example.

Quotations that have had topics tagged to them show the list in the block below each quote (“Topics: “). As I have call to edit any of my older quotations, I’m updating the tags there. With over 13,000 quotation in WIST, that’s a sizable task.

I’m not using any formal taxonomy of topics here. As I enter in a quotation, I include as tags any associated verbiage and concepts I freely associate with the quotation, as well as key terms from it.

Topic tags are also part of the Search function on WIST, so if you’ve searched for “accomplishment,” quotations I’ve tagged that way have also come up in the results, even if the word was not in the body of the text.

The current list of topics, alphabetized, can be found at the top menu under “Topics.” The most commonly used ones are in the topic cloud in the side bar.

I hope this is a useful function for all of you using WIST.


Added on 6-Jun-15; last updated 6-Jun-15
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 3/2015

Time for another year’s “State of the WIST” post.  I last ran this report a year ago. Some changes that took place on the site this year:

  • I’ve now added pictures to quite a number of authors; everyone with 5+ quotes in the system, and others as I go along.
  • I have set up a feed of WIST into Facebook. Because, so they say, all the cool kids are doing it.
  • I am manually feeding quotes into Google+, too.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Quotes and Authors 2015

So, yeah, nice, steady progress. Generally speaking I post five quotes a day, every weekday. Sometimes something gets in the way, but by and large it’s been a workable schedule.

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the time frame):

Quotes and Authors Graph 2015

While I did some author scrubbing early in the year, I’ve also been adding a lot of authors as I go along, day to day.

Of the authors I have, who are the most quoted in WIST?

Top 10 Authors 2015

Not a lot of changes this year; the names are all the same, with just a bit of shuffling in the upper ranks (which, as you can see, are very close). 

The Top Ten Author list is shown “live” in the sidebar — as is the Top Ten Visited Quotations list. That shows less movement, since it is cumulative over all time:

  1. – Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 179 (4,530, from 4,520)
  2. – Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (4,019, from 3,671)
  3. ↑ John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (3,331, from 2,357)
  4. ↓ James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) (2,550, from 2,411)
  5. – Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,430, from 2,206)
  6. – Bertand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (2,400, from 2,002)
  7. ↑ Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) (1,825, from 1,361)
  8.  Michel de Montaigne, Moral Essays, “On Tranquility of Mind [De Tranquillitate Animi],” 17.10 [tr. W. Langsdorf (1900)] (1,691, from 1,473)
  9. ↓Albert Einstein, (Spurious / Synthetic) (1,660, from 1,572)
  10. ↓ Michel de Montaigne, “That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)] (1,546, from 1,473)

That Molly Ivins quote got a huge bump this last year, for whatever reasons (I suspect someone cited it somewhere, but it’s hard to say).

Unfortunately, I can’t track the most popular items in the last year, but for the last 60 days, per Google Analytics:

  1. John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) – 205 Views
  2. John Kenneth Galbraith,  “Stop the Madness,” Interview with Rupert Cornwell, Toronto Globe and Mail (6 Jul 2002) – 71 Views
  3. Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) – 71 Views
  4. Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) – 68 Views
  5. Aldous Huxley, “Sermons in Cats,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931) – 45 Views

So some overlap there, as you might expect. 

Google Analytics shows me my traffic is modestly up this year. I got 32 visitors making 37 visits and viewing 51 pages a day (up from 21, 25, and 34 the preceding year).  So that’s nice.

One thing I did this year was, in addition to my Twitter feed (92 followers), I’m now publishing to Facebook (reaching 0-3 people per post) and Google+ (8 followers). That should boost readership, in theory. 

84% of my visitors are English-speakers, not surprisingly. 60% are in the US; other Top Ten countries include the UK, Canada, India, Brazil, Australia, Germany France, the Netherlands, and Italy.

The majority of my visitors, 41% are using Chrome (that might be due to my use of the site, to be fair); Safari and IE both are 18% of users, and 17% Firefox.

81% of visits come from desktop users; ony 14% mobile and 6% tablet. I’d like to push those numbers up, but it will require extra template work to make happen, since my own template is so heavily customized for the quotation display.

 


Added on 10-Mar-15; last updated 10-Mar-15
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Administrivia: Great Googley-Moogley (again)

I’ve restarted transcribing each day’s quotations over to Google+ (here), if that’s an easier or more convenient way for you to read the daily WIST entries than the blog, email, Twitter, or Facebook. The G+ entries will be the full quotations and citations, as well as a link back to the individual entry on WIST, but will not include the source links or secondary information about the quotes.

It is, alas, a manual effort due to G+’s API, but I hope that it will let a few more people see the work done here.


Added on 21-Jan-15; last updated 21-Jan-15
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Administrivia: Fortune and Glory, Kid!

I just discovered there’s a reference to WIST in the English Language Arts (ELA) text exemplars for the Common Core curriculum as implemented by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). These are “sample texts intended to guide educators as they thoughtfully select texts to use as vehicles for teaching the ELA Common Core State Standards (CCSS).”

On Page 8 of the PDF, under Informational Texts for grades 9-10, we have a reference to Learned Hand’s “I Am an American Day Address”, pointing to this WIST page.

WIST: Doing Its Part to Educate Kids (at least in North Carolina).


Added on 21-Aug-14; last updated 21-Aug-14
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Administrivia: WIST Goes Facebook!

I’m not a Facebook kind of guy, but a huge number of folks in the world are. So WIST now has a feed into Facebook. Just like the Twitter feed, this will give a platform-limited view of all the quotes I post on any given day, with a link to bring you to the original WIST post (which will include all the cool stuff like the full quotation, supplemental info, and author biography / picture).

So, if you think it would be convenient for you to follow WIST via Facebook, then Like us and Follow us and all that good FBish stuff, and tell your friends! Enjoy!


Added on 17-Apr-14; last updated 17-Apr-14
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Administrivia: WIST! Now, with Pictures!

As you may have noticed (if you’ve visited the WIST site this week), I am now posting author pictures here for the various quotations. It’s done on a category basis, so I’m tackling them from most-quoted author to least, as well as making sure they are present for the authors of quotes I add each day. It’s a bit more laborious than I’d prefer, but I think it adds a worthwhile bit of humanity to these interesting words, being able to see the person who actually said or wrote them. (It also points out the large preponderance of Old White Dead Guys, but that’s a different challenge.)

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while now. I’m using Michael Fields’ Taxonomy Images plug-in (since native WP doesn’t include category image support). The images are mostly from Wikicommons, or elsewhere on the Net; I’m making an effort to use public domain images, as well.

Given that I have a few thousand authors, it’s a task that will not be complete any time soon, if ever. But the same might be said of building a collection of quotations. At the very least, it will further help keeping me out of trouble.


Added on 7-Mar-14; last updated 7-Mar-14
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 3/2014

Another year, another “State of the WIST” post.  I last ran this report a year ago. Let’s start with the raw count:

Doing-The-Numbers-Tallies-2014

So, yeah, nice, steady progress. Generally speaking I post five quotes a day, every weekday. Sometimes something gets in the way, but by and large it’s been a workable schedule.

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the timeframe):

Doing-The-Numbers-Graph-2014

I’ve been making a conscious effort to increase the number of authors (or not shy away from adding a one-off by a new author). That makes for better diversity.

Of the authors I do have, who are the most quoted in WIST?

Doing-The-Numbers-Top-Ten-Authors-2014

A lot of this is based on blocks of quotes I go through in a given year. A lot of Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Johnson have been popping up the last twelve months, with Johnson being on the Top Ten list for the first time in quite a while — looking at the backlog, he may end up on top by this time next year. Ben Franklin has also clawed his way back onto the leader board.

“Losers” (dropping off the Top Ten) were Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill.

The Top Ten Author list is shown “live” in the sidebar — as is the Top Ten Visited Quotations. That list shows less movement, since it is cumulative over all time:

  1. – Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 179 (4,520 from 3,316)
  2. – Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree(1942) (3,671 from 2,944)
  3. – James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) (2,411 from 2,138)
  4. ↑ John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (2,357 from 1,769)
  5. ↑ Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,206 from 1,764)
  6. ↓ Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (2,002 from 1,842)
  7. – Seneca the Younger, Moral Essays, “On Tranquility of Mind [De Tranquillitate Animi],” 17.10 [tr. W. Langsdorf (1900)] (1,689 from 1,448)
  8. – Albert Einstein, (Spurious / Synthetic) (1,572 from 1,354)
  9. – Michel de Montaigne, “That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)] (1,473 from 1,317)
  10. – Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) (1,361 from 919)

Unfortunately, I can’t track the most popular items in the last year, but for the last 60 days, per Google Analytics:

  1. John Kennth Galbraith, “Stop the Madness,” Interview with Rupert Cornwell, Toronto Globe and Mail (6 Jul 2002) – 152 Views
  2. Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) – 36 Views
  3. T. H. Huxley, “A Liberal Education and Where to Find It” (1868) – 30 Views
  4. Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) – 30 Views
  5. Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) – 27 Views

So some overlap there.

Google Analytics shows me my traffic is way down this year — 25 visitors/day vs 83 (21 o them unique), with 34 pageviews/day vs 254.  That’s a bit disappointing, though it’s not going to stop me from continuing the site by any means. I’d love to drive more traffic here — not just for the egoboo but because I’d like to think it’s a valuable resource.  The question is how.  (Suggestions are welcome.)

Over 90% of my traffic is from English-speaking space, about 70% from the US. Though I do get hits from UK, Canada, France, India, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Romania and Germany in the top ten.  Chrome and IE are the top contenders for browser, and 71% of visitors are on Windows; the next biggest OS is iOS, so a lot of iPhone/iPad viewers out there.  One of these years, after I hit the lottery, I’ll craft a mobile version of WIST that can deal with all of the realignment of fields I do to make all these beautiful quotations …

 


Added on 1-Mar-14; last updated 3-Mar-14
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Administrivia: Fortune and glory, kid — fortune and glory

I always feel gratified when someone links back to one of my quotations here as a sign that this site isn’t just scratching a personal itch, but is actually of use. Another site that is invaluable in delving into the sources of poorly (or conflictingly) cited quotations is Garson O’Toole’s Quote Investigator. I recently tweeted him into any info he had on a quotation frequently misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but in reality belonging to Mary Schmich. He looked into it and posted his findings here. He was also kind enough to say this:

Great thanks to Dave Hill who asked about this saying, and its ascription to Eleanor Roosevelt. Hill runs the website “WIST: Wish I’d Said That!” which presents a valuable collection of quotations and citations.

Now that’s something I feel proud about seeing in print. O’Toole’s frequently led me to the truth behind stubborn “(Attributed)” quotations, so it’s a bit of a thrill to get a nice shout-out from him.

(The title for this post is a line from Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, and George Lucas, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).)


Added on 10-Aug-13; last updated 10-Aug-13
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Administrivia: Running on Auto-Pilot

I’m going to be away from my computer for a few weeks, on vacation. But I’ve pre-loaded those weeks with the usual dose of WIST each weekday, so, if all goes well, you won’t even notice I’m gone. If all goes not well, I won’t be able to do anything about it for a while. So … here’s hoping all goes well.


Added on 18-Jul-13; last updated 18-Jul-13
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Administrivia: Yet another way to get your daily WISTy goodness

I’ve been experimenting with this for a while, but hadn’t made up my mind to publicize it until I was sure I’d follow through. I’m now mirroring WIST content on Google+. I know some folks have a limited number of places they go to for their Internet content — Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, Google+, etc. My hope is to make WIST more convenient to use for some of you by providing a (manual) feed of the quotations I post here over on G+. This will still be the primary site (and contain the 11-odd thousand quotations I’ve collected to date).

Let me know if that’s helpful to you.


Added on 30-Jun-13; last updated 30-Jun-13
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Administrivia: O Brave New Template That Has Such Formatting In It

For the first time in four years, I’ve updated the template for this blog, going from the venerable iNove template to WordPress’ own Twenty-Ten template. This is a non-trivial task, given that I’ve mucked about in the template code in the past to reflect my idiosyncratic use of WordPress fields in my quotations database (e.g., using the post title as the primary citation on the quote). But I like the much more contemporary (and less gray) results. 

I think I’ve tested and checked and covered everything here, but it may well be that I’ve missed something. If so, please let me know!


Added on 30-Jun-13; last updated 30-Jun-13
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Administrivia: Pardon Our Dust

I’m going to be doing some redesign work around here, so formatting (including RSS) may be more than a scosh wonky.


Added on 28-Jun-13; last updated 28-Jun-13
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 3/2013

Another year, another “State of the WIST” post.  I last ran this report last February.

Despite vacations and illness and other vagaries of schedule, I managed to keep a pretty steady increase over the course of the year.

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the timeframe):

I actually upped the number of new authors this year, consciously (I have a large backlog of quotations from authors I haven’t yet entered into the system).  Another project I’ve had (aside from a slow sweep through the database, eliminating duplicate quotations, trying to source things, etc.) is to go through the authors and note ones who have died.  (Any deceased that aren’t noted as such, please do let me know.)

Of the authors I do have, who are the most quoted in WIST?

No adds or drops from the Top 10, just a reshuffle (all of these had absolute number increases, but just shifted in the quantity rank).  That I had (still have) a long list of TR and Jefferson quotes that I’m running through here is the main reason why (yes, Shakespeare is losing his top ranking by the time I do this again next year).

I’m still amazed by how tightly most of these are clustered. The Top 10 Authors are listed in the sidebar.

There was a bit more ranking movement on the Top Ten most visited quotations (also referenced in the sidebar):

  1. ↑ Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 179 (3,316 from 1,351)
  2. ↓ Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree(1942) (2,944 from 2,209)
  3. ♥ James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960) (2,138)
  4. ↑ Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (1,842 from 1,005)
  5. – John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (1,769 from 1,018)
  6. ↑ Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (1,764 from 865)
  7. ↓ Seneca the Younger, Moral Essays, “On Tranquility of Mind [De Tranquillitate Animi],” 17.10 [tr. W. Langsdorf (1900)] (1,448 from 1,054)
  8. – Albert Einstein, (Spurious / Synthetic) (1,354 from 845)
  9. ↓ Michel de Montaigne, “That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)] (1,317 frm 1,087)
  10. ♥ Molly Ivins, “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (9 Mar 1993) (919)

Two new quotes this year on the Top 10, the Baldwin and the Ivins (the latter, I suspect, as guns have been much in the news this year).  The two losers were already on the bottom last year, Teddy Roosevelt and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Einstein quote was identified as a synthesis of several others of his written statements.

Google Analytics tells me that traffic is about where it was in visitors per day — 83 — but has jumped a lot in page views — 254 vs 116 last year.

Interestingly, 13% of my visitors are from a mobile platform, which really makes me think I need to figure out how to do a mobile-friendly version of the site (difficult because the the customization I’ve done in the core template files — which is a reason I’ve not changed the overall theme here, either).

And that’s probably enough numbers for now. Back tomorrow with … letters!


Added on 6-Mar-13; last updated 8-Mar-13
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Administrivia: Reducing page turns

I’ve bumped up the number of quotes that can appear on a page to 200 — which, at this point, means that all my authors will be fit on a single page. This should make it a bit easier to find stuff or sift through a given author’s quotes without going from page to page. The rendering time also seems to still be pretty decent that way, even on a smartphone.

If you have any problems, let me know.


Added on 8-Jan-13; last updated 8-Jan-13
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Administrivia: A new way to show sources and context

One of the things I pride myself on with WIST is doing my Googley best to provide citations for all my quotations. Often, when I have to research the sources of a quote, I end up with an online copy of the original, primary text.That’s useful information, both to “prove” the quotation is real, and to provide context to it. (Not to mention providing fodder for future research for good quote.)

In the past, I’ve simply added a note at the bottom of the quotation (in the “more” text in WordPress, for those interested in the technicalities) saying something like “Full text“, with text being a hyperlink to that source material — a web page, a news article, a Gutenberg archive, or, increasingly often, a Google Book.

I’ve now added  custom field in WIST (using a WordPress custom field, for those technically interested) to store the “source” hyperlink info. This will tuck up right under the citation, showing as “(Source)”, which should improve some of the formatting and take up a scosh less space on the page.  It will only show up if I have a source / context hyperlink to put in, and, in general, will only point to primary materials.

Obviously I have some thousands of the “Full text” notes in WIST, and I won’t be methodically going in and changing them over.  But over time, as I update quote, review/update authors, etc., I’ll convert them to the new style.

Let me know what you think, if you have a strong impression one way or another.


Added on 15-Jun-12; last updated 15-Jun-12
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Administrivia: No, this is not a pattern

At least I hope not.

After being on vacation for most of a week, I was back a couple of days, then promptly fell sick. Fell sick as in “I didn’t restart my computer until five days later.

But I’m back! And so are the quotations!


Added on 9-Apr-12; last updated 9-Apr-12
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Administrivia: We now resume our regularly scheduled quoting

Back from vacation. Let the quoting begin!


Added on 2-Apr-12; last updated 2-Apr-12
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 2/2012

Another good year of WIST since I last ran these (back last March). Let’s look at the historical count:

Another good, steady increase, including topping the 10K milestone. Very pleased with that.

Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the timeframe):

A slow, steady increase in authors over time (which is not surprising — the most popular authors would already be in the database, though I still come up with a remarkable number of folks who I don’t yet have on the list).

The number of quotes shows how I’ve, for the last five years, been trying to do my five-quotes-a-weekday regimen, and managing to do so successfully.  This is one of the longest sustained projects of mine, and I’m pretty darned proud of it.

This table shows the top ten most prolifically quoted authors here, with trending notes showing where folks have risen and dropped in rank.  Eric Hoffer is new to the list, and former top 10ers who have fallen off from last year include luminaries such as Ben Franklin, Robert Green Ingersoll, Albert Einstein, and Abe Lincoln. (Last year there were actually 14 people on the list, due to ties — I remain amazed by how close some of the numbers are.)

You can always see the current Top 10 in the sidebar.

As for the most popular quotes on the site (and showing where they went up or down in the ranking):

  1. – Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942)  (2,209)
  2. ↑ Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 179 (1,351)
  3. ↓ Michel de Montaigne, “That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)] (1,087)
  4. – Seneca the Younger, Moral Essays, “On Tranquility of Mind [De Tranquillitate Animi]“, 17.10 [tr. W. Langsdorf (1900)] (1,054)
  5. ↓ John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (1,018)
  6. ↓ Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (1,005)
  7. ♥ Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (865)
  8. – Albert Einstein, “Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium” (1941) (845)
  9. ↓ Theodore Roosevelt, “The New Nationalism,” speech, Osawatomie, Kansas (31 Aug 1910)(754)
  10. ↓ Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, “Introduction: The Custom-House” (1850) (553)

The addition of the Campbell quote pushed from the Top Ten list Lord Chesterfield’s Letter to his son (9 Oct 1746). Why these numbers are as they are surpasseth understanding.

Finally, Google Analytics tells me over the last year I’m getting about 83 visitors a day, and 116 pageviews.  That’s up from the previous year’s 73 and 103, which is kind of nice.

In keeping with global trends, IE usage is down (from 40% to 36%), Firefox usage is down (from 31% to 26%), and Chrome usage is up (from 12% to 20%). About 84% of people come here from a search, and 12% come here directly (bless you).

And … that’s enough numbers for today.


Added on 21-Feb-12; last updated 21-Feb-12
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Administrivia: 10,000 quotations, huzzah!

Sometime over the last week, WIST gained its 10,000th quotation. There’s a count kept in the sidebar, but it’s a bit deceptive because it includes Administrative posts (such as this), of which (prior to this one) there have ben 81. It appears that this Samuel Pepys quote was the official 10,000th.

It’s remarkable how quickly the numbers grow when you plug in five quotes every weekday, 25 a week. Though the numbers don’t always go just upward — I do periodic reviews through the collection, and occasionally come upon duplicates that need to be cleaned up.

It’s taken 24 years (!) to get to this point. At the current load rate, though, it will only take about 15 years further to get to 20,000. Best get a move on, then!


Added on 26-Jan-12; last updated 26-Jan-12
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Administrivia: Updated to WordPress 3.3

The blogging software underlying WIST, WordPress, has now been updated to the latest-greatest version. Let me know if you spot any problems.

I am quite possibly going to be changing the theme (screen appearance) over the next week or so (hurrah for holiday vacations), so if you pop in here and things look really weird … hopefully that’s why.


Added on 21-Dec-11; last updated 21-Dec-11
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Administrivia: Getting Social

I now have Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter buttons after each quotation in the individual quotation pages, so that you can easily share your favorite quotes with your social circles. Enjoy!


Added on 29-Oct-11; last updated 29-Oct-11
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Administrivia: The Pause that Refreshes

I’m headed off on holiday, so WIST will likely be much more sporadic for the next few weeks.  I didn’t have time to queue up daily quotes, but I will have a laptop with me and so may get the opportunity to do some quotational goodness.

Or perhaps I’ll simply feel fulfilled sipping prosecco and watching the sun drop down into the Mediterranean.  Either way, we will resume our normal posting schedule around 6 June.


Added on 19-May-11; last updated 19-May-11
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 3/2011

We last updated the numbers back in April 2010, but since I’m thinking about it, here’s where we are now.

I moved a few other things from “Miscellaneous” into authored categories, but the overall quotations made a very nice increase over the last year (if I’d waited until the end of April, I’d be a full thousand more quotes). I’ve also added a good number of new authors.

Speaking of authors, here’s the current Top 10 (expanded a bit, due to ties).  The ones in italics have jumped into the list since last year.

There’s now a listing in the sidebar (“Prolific Authors”) to show this info dynamically.

The current Top Quotes (by views) are always shown in the sidebar, too (“Popular Quotables”).  As a snapshot, and with author:

  1. ↑ Robert Frost: “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (888)
  2. ↑ Michel de Montaigne: “That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die,” Essays (1588) [tr. D. Frame (1958)] (760)
  3. ↑ John Steinbeck: Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (728)
  4. ↓ Seneca the Younger: Moral Essays, “On Tranquility of Mind De Tranquillitate Animi“, 17.10 [tr. W. Langsdorf (1900)] (702)
  5. ♥ Bertrand Russell:  “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (667)
  6. ↓ Theodore Roosevelt: “The New Nationalism,” speech, Osawatomie, Kansas (31 Aug 1910) (655)
  7. ♥ Aeschylus: Agamemnon, l. 179 (597)
  8. ♥ Albert Einstein: “Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium” (1941) (505)
  9. ↓ Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter, “Introduction: The Custom-House” (1850) (463)
  10. ↓ Lord Chesterfield: Letter to his son (9 Oct 1746) (415)

I’ve noted where each quote has risen or fallen in the rankings, or is new in the Top 10 from last time (♥). Quotes that fell off were Robert Louis Stevenson (“Aes Triplex” (1878)), William Henley (“Invictus” (1875)), and Patrick Henry (Speech, Virginia Ratifying Convention (5 Jun 1788)).

As far as traffic goes, according to Google Analytics I averaged about 107 visits a day in the last month, which looks to be up from the previous period, averaging around a thousand page views a week.  Not too shabby — hardly fortune and glory, but a nice validation for my hobby.

Who    Rank    Quotes

Added on 22-Mar-11; last updated 22-Mar-11
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Administrivia: We are experiencing hemispherical difficulties … please stand by …

I realized yesterday that WIST has been “dark” for a week and a half.  My apologies — I’ve been on business in Australia and South America, which has been both fascinating and exhausting and otherwise disorienting enough to have broken my daily WIST-posting habit.

We will resume our normal quotational broadcasts on Monday.


Added on 15-Mar-11; last updated 21-Mar-11
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Administrivia: Upgraded to WordPress 3.0.1

WIST has been upgraded to the latest version of WordPress.  This is probably the most difficult off the blogs I have to do this with, as I’ve actually tinkered with the source code (RSS2 and Atom feeds), and have to recreate that each time.  Things look good at the moment, though.

If you spot something wrong on the blog — bad formatting, errors — please let me know as soon as possible.


Added on 15-Aug-10; last updated 15-Aug-10
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Administrivia:

Howdy. WIST will be taking a brief vacation break, returning next Tuesday. Thanks for all your support.


Added on 20-Jul-10; last updated 20-Jul-10
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers: 4/2010

It’s been a bit over a year since I last ran the numbers on WIST. In that time, I’ve continued my daily updates, plus shifted things over to WordPress. Let’s see how things have changed.

How many …Apr-2010Jan-2009Feb-2007Aug-2003Feb-2002Nov-2000
Miscellaneous Quotations?495507475457446400
Authored Quotations?7,6186,0914,6104,2333,8693,208
Total Quotations?8,1136,5985,0854,6904,3153,608
Authors?1,8361,7511,6721,6321,5661,396

The Miscellaneous Quotes number is down a bit due mostly to my moving Bible quotes into the “Authored” category.  But I’m very pleased by how the overall total has gone up — amazing what 5 quotes entered nearly every workday can do  for those counts.

As to the top authors cited, taking 50 as a threshold …

RankWhoQuotes
1Shakespeare, William118
2Emerson, Ralph Waldo84
2Twain, Mark84
4Shaw, George Bernard79
5Russell, Bertrand73
6Lewis, C.S.66
7Chesterton, Gilbert Keith65
8Roosevelt, Theodore60
9Lincoln, Abraham59
10Einstein, Albert55
11Franklin, Benjamin55
12Ingersoll, Robert G.54
13Stevenson, Adlai50
14Watterson, Bill50

Teddy, Abe and Albert have all gotten back into the Top 10 (which only required 44 quotes last time).  Ben and Bill have dropped out, and Ambrose Bierce has completely disappeared (heh).

Note that the changes can be somewhat skewed by how I select quotes for entry — some is randomized from various sources, but I’m also slowly going through the existing WIST database by author (at three points around the alphabet), and, as I get to each, trying to research any “Attributed” quotes as well as come up with more quotes for that author, which then go into a weekly rotation.

Still, a bunch of old white guys all of whom are either dead or retired.  Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but there it is.

The current Top Quotes (by views) are always shown in the sidebar at WIST.  As a snapshot:

Now, why those particular quotes, I have no idea.  Most of them are not particularly famous.

Finally, as far as all the Google Analytics numbers, I’m doing about about 560 visitors (470 unique) hitting around 750 pages per week.  That appears to be down from the last time, substantially — but still enough to make me feel like someone’s appreciating the effort.

The vast majority of hits are from the US, but other English-speaking countries (UK, Canada, Australia, India) round out the top 5.  82% of visitors are new, the rest are returning customers. Three-quarters of the traffic is via search engines; 10% are referred from other sites, and over 15% enter in the address directly.

And those are the numbers, to go with the words.


Added on 30-Apr-10; last updated 30-Apr-10
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Administrivia: Bible Verses in WIST

I’ve made a change in how Bible verses are quoted in WIST.  Whereas before I had Bible quotes falling underneath “Other Authors and Sources,” I’ve now designated “Bible” as an “author” in the database, allowing easier grouping and finding of quotations from there. (One could arguably assert various “authors” within the Bible, especially in the New Testament, but I’m not going to take it to that detail; the authorship is associated with the book cited and is subject to whatever scholarship the reader cares to accept.)

I’m also trying to be more diligent about citing the translation in use, since that can have a lot of influence on how the ideas are presented (or even whether folks consider them “valid”).  I’m generally not citing source links, as the reader may have their preference.  The three I use, for different reasons:

  • Bible Gateway (the most robust site out there)
  • NetBible (includes some translations not in Bible Gateway, like NRSV, as well as some linguistic resources)
  • Olive Tree (includes one of my favorite translations, Today’s English Version)

There are other Holy Books / Scripture out there which I still have lumped under “Other,” mostly because the number of quote I have from them is relatively small.  As I see a need, I’ll break them out into their own “author” categories.


Added on 11-Mar-10; last updated 11-Mar-10
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Administrivia: WIST on Twitter!

WIST is now echoed out to Twitter at @WISTquotes.  Each quotation I add will be excerpted to that site as they’re done each day.  Of course, with only 140 characters, all folks there will get will be the name, the first 60 characters of the quote, a link back to the WIST entry.  E.g.,

Lincoln, Abraham: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith…” http://bit.ly/dBh9EQ #quotes

My hope is that this will provide folks over in the Twitterverse with something useful, as well as driving a bit more traffic over to this site.

Let me know what you think, or if you have any other ideas for how to improve WIST.


Added on 1-Mar-10; last updated 1-Mar-10
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Administrivia: Search for WIST through your browser

I’ve added a search plug-in for WIST to the Mycroft Project, which hosts search engine plug-ins for Firefox and for IE.

The plug-in does a quotation text search. That means it won’t search for author info — a side effect of the way I’ve implemented the authors as categories in WordPress.

You can find the plug-in here.  Enjoy!


Added on 4-Feb-10; last updated 4-Feb-10
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Administrivia: And a Happy New Year!

This week has been a bit spotty with WIST, as I’ve been in a flurry of holiday/vacation travel and activities.  I’m going to be taking a week off from WIST until after the New Year, since the coming week will be even more harried (and likely less connected).

Thank you all for your support and reading of this little hobby of mine.  I’ll be doing a more official tally in the New Year,  but I’ve added probably a good thousand quotes to the list, and had a great time doing so.

Here’s hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, and that the new year brings you both joy and illuminating words to ponder.


Added on 24-Dec-09; last updated 24-Dec-09
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Administrivia: But the flesh is weak

Apologies for the silence this week — the H1N1 flu grabbed me and threw me down on the couch the past few days. I’m feeling much better, and so will be resuming with the regular WIST posts, starting … about … now.


Added on 30-Oct-09; last updated 30-Oct-09
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Administrivia: Quote-by-Email / RSS Feed problems: solved

I’ve fixed the feed problems I introduced with the WordPress upgrade. All feeds — including the quotes-by-email from FeedBurner — should be working properly now. It not, please let me know.

For more info on the feeds here, you can choose the “Subscribe” link at the top of the page.


Added on 16-Jul-09; last updated 16-Jul-09
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Administrivia: Quote-by-Email / RSS Feed problems

Apologies to WIST followers via RSS or Atom feeds (or “Quotes of the Day” email people). During a recent upgrade to WordPress (10 July), I failed to reinstall / recreate the feed code that juggles includes the person who actually gave the quote, so that info has been missing.

I’m going to work on getting that back running today, so you may see some additional quotes passing through as I test it.


Added on 16-Jul-09; last updated 16-Jul-09
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Administrivia: Tweaking WIST

I made a couple of changes to the site setup today worth noting:

First, Author collections (category archives) will now be sorted by the citation, not by the date the quote was entered in here. That should be helpful both in looking things up and in spotting potential duplicates (or inconsistent citations).

Second, I’ve added (see the top of any WIST page) an “Authors” page, which lists all the authors currently cited in WIST (along with how many quotations they have recorded here). Clicking any of the names will bring you to their quotation page. And if you hover over the names, you’ll get the more detailed biographical info about them that shows up in each quote’s citation.

This Authors page needs some further work — I wanted to have the full description as the text here, not the shorter name (which can also be seen in the Authors list in every sidebar). But it’s a step forward.

If there are other features you’d like to see in WIST, please let me know. Future plans for the site are always listed in the “To Do” page, linked at the top.


Added on 15-Jun-09; last updated 15-Jun-09
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Administrivia: On vacation autopilot

After leaving off for the (US) Memorial Day holiday, I’m on vacation the rest of the week. I have, however, queued up the standard complement of quotations for Tuesday – Friday. The only difference my being away makes is that if there are any egregious formatting or spelling errors, I won’t see them until I return next week, and any comments left will (probably) stay unanswered until then.


Added on 26-May-09; last updated 18-May-09
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Administrivia: Feeds still not working properly

I’m aware the folks who are reading this via Feedburner (directly or via email), feeds are still goofed up (presently the formatting is better, but the author name is missing — and that’s now causing a problem with other direct feeds). I know what needs fixing, but haven’t confirmed the latest approach to how is working. Apologies, and feel free to come visit the site in order to see the latest-greatest until I can get this corrected.

UPDATE (mere minutes later, of course):  Problem fixed, huzzah.  I will be spreading this out to other feed templates later today.


Added on 16-Apr-09; last updated 16-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Still having a few technical difficulties

Well, irritatingly enough, though the Atom/RSS feed for the site looks fine in Google Reader, and in the viewer in FeedBurner, too, the email version that FeedBurner sends out looks … less than … good.

Apologies to WIST readers who use that feature. I’ll try to figure out what the heck is going on.


Added on 15-Apr-09; last updated 15-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Welcome to WIST v3!

A combination of factors — a fractious PC that was causing me difficulty updating the old Movable Type site, a new mania for WordPress, and a touch of obsession — has led to my converting over WIST to a WordPress blog. I think it will provide, in the long run, some serious advantages in performance and ease of use, both for me and for my readers.

There’s still a lot to do here — my inability to update the old version caused me to rush this to production. Part of the needed changes are cosmetic — getting the WIST logo back in place. Others more more substantial — getting the feeds working properly, dealing with some odd formatting glitches, etc.

But I’m pleased to be able to roll this out. I hope you continue to enjoy reading and using WIST as much as I enjoy keeping it updated. And, at a rather appropriate cracking-the-7000-quote mark, it’s a perfect time for a brand new era.

UPDATE:  I was unable to make a final post in the old MT installation to let folks kno this, but … as part of the conversion, the RSS feed addresses for WIST have changed.  If you were using FeedBurner, then you’ll see a difference, but you don’t have to do anything.  If you had a direct subscription to the feed from the site, though, it no longer works.  Go to the RSS link at the top of the page to make a new choice over how you want to subcribe here.


Added on 13-Apr-09; last updated 13-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Technical difficulties

Apologies for the lack of WIST entries yesterday. Technical difficulties on my PC (still ongoing) caused the problem, but I’m going to work around them today.

Meantime, I’ll catch up on the gap, and, hopefully, have some Big News for you later this weekend.

Again, thanks for your patience.


Added on 10-Apr-09; last updated 10-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Things are back to normal

I’ve gotten the performance problems here cleared up by shifting my main blog (which was the spam traffic target) over to WordPress from Movable Type. I will probably eventually do the same to WIST, but that’s a ways off — I’ve done some serious tweaking to how I get MT to support WIST, and the migration of the data (the normal MT-WP export/import routine doesn’t include a good chunk of the data I store here), getting WP to behave the same (again, using categories for authors and such), and retaining all the permalinks to the current site (for the sake of Google and folks who have linked back) is going to be a non-trivial task.

In the meantime, though, things seem to be on an even keel here, and no more glitches in posting (knocks wood). Thanks for your continued reading and support.


Added on 23-Feb-09; last updated 23-Feb-09
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Administrivia: Technical difficulties

I’m having serious performance problems at my WIST site, largely due to spammers bringing the server to its knees trying to work their evil ways. Nothing’s getting through, but whilst they’re crowded around the building, posting of new material is highly problematic, and some that does get posted is lacking authors by the time the system processes. I correct these problems as soon as I spot them — but sometimes it can take many, many retries for the correction to actually get through.

So apologies for quotations being posted (esp. through the RSS feed / e-mail distribution) without authors associated. I am working on the problem, though there is no trivial solution as this point.


Added on 13-Feb-09; last updated 13-Feb-09
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers, 1/2009

It’s been a while (since February 2007), but for everyone’s edification, here are the current WIST stats:

How many of …

Jan -09

Feb-07

Aug-03

Feb-02

Nov-00

Miscellaneous Quotations?

507

475

457

446

400

Authored Quotations?

6,091

4,610

4,233

3,869

3,208

Total Quotations?

6,598

5,085

4,690

4,315

3,608

Cited Authors?

1,751

1,672

1,632

1,556

1,396

 

The “Total Quotations” number doesn’t quite sync up with the number at the top of the main page due to the latter including Adminstrivia posts (such as this one).

The number is still not as huge as other sites — but all of those quotes have been looked at, examined, and an attempt made to source them. I think that’s worthwhile.

As to the currently most represented here …

Who?

Rank

Count

William Shakespeare

1

105

Mark Twain

2

66

Bertrand Russell

3

65

C.S. Lewis

4

63

George Bernard Shaw

5

61

G. K. Chesterton

5

61

Ralph Waldo Emerson

7

60

Bill Watterson

8

49

Ambrose Bierce

9

46

Benjamin Franklin

10

44

 

Dave Barry and Abe Lincoln fell off the Top 10; Russell and Franklin are the adds this time.

I’m running Google Analytics on this page currently, as far as tracking visitors. I’m getting about 910 hits here per week, most of which come from Google. Not huger numbers, but respectable.

Of the visitors, 57% are from the US ; other countries are all below 10% each, with the UK ,Canda ,Ireland ,India , and Germany having the most visitors. About 50% are on IE (down from 61% last time); Firefox shows as 40%, with smaller blips for Safari and Opera.

Not sure what it all means, but there it is. For myself, I’ve been pleased with my regimen to post five quotations daily here. I hope my loyal readers enjoy what they’re seeing; I thank you one and all.


Added on 1-Jan-09; last updated 30-Apr-10
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Administrivia: Search problems, changes

A copule of things:

  1. Yahoo has discontinued its site Search Builder program, in exchange allowing folks to do much more powerful (and complicated) customized search bits. As a result, the old Yahoo search box stopped working, and I’ve removed it until I figure out how to make Yahoo searches work from here again.
  2. The FastSearch box is also acting persnickety, for reasons I cannot diagnose as yet. I’ve labeled it as “NOT WORKING,” and re-enabled the normal slower-but-more-thorough MT search functionality in the sidebar.

Apologies for any inconvenience.


Added on 5-Nov-08; last updated 5-Nov-08
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Administrivia: A few election quotations

It’s Election Day here in the US. On my “regular” blog, I’ve pulled some WIST quotations from some past US Presidents about the future before us.


Added on 4-Nov-08; last updated 4-Nov-08
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Administrivia: WIST Interruptus

Apologies for the spotty posting last week. I was on business in India and between a very full schedule and being 11½ hours off-kilter, I didn’t get update WIST nearly as often as I’d planned.

I’ll try to make it up this week by posting an extra quotation or two each day.


Added on 20-Oct-08; last updated 20-Oct-08
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Administrivia: Passing the 6,000 mark

While the odometer at the top of WIST isn’t exact (it includes about 50-odd Administrivia posts such as this), it appears we’ve rollled well past the 6,000 quotations mark. While there are a lot of sites with more, I’d like to think that the loving attention I give to each and every quote I put up here makes WIST a bit special. 

It remains a labor of love, and I plan to be around for at least another 6,000.


Added on 9-Jul-08; last updated 9-Jul-08
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Administrivia: Working notes

Things are humming along ricki-ticki here at WIST Central. You may have noticed I’ve recently gone to 5 quotes a day, rather than 3. Thereby hangs a tale.
In addition to adding new quotations to the database, I am in a continuing effort to clean up existing entries — generally meaning sourcing them. Resources online for this sort of thing have grown tremendously in the years since I’ve started this effort, with three elements being of particular value in sourcing attributions:

  1. Bartleby.com: Has some classic quotation books online.
  2. Wikiquote: An ever-growing adjunct to Wikipedia, with user donated/vetted quotation collections.
  3. Google Books: Google’s efforts to scan the libraries of the world have led to a lot of primary sources for quotes being put online and searchable. It fills me with joy to find a quote that is unattibuted anywhere in its original form and in context.

My re-research has tended to be alphabetical, going through the listings. I’m currently in the S’s (and, when done, will wrap again around to the A’s). This research, in addition to cleaning up entries (note anywhere the original and last-modified date are different), has two major outcomes:

  1. I tend to find a lot of other quotes by that author. This leads me to a quote “surplus,” which means I don’t have to spend any research time each day, but can just grab five (or more, but five at the moment) from the ever-growing raw materials text file I keep.
  2. I face a challenge in keeping the names all mixed up. Sure, I could have “Bertrand Russell” day (and, hey, that’s actually an interesting idea for birthdays and the like), but I’d rather provide a variety each day, both by person, and thematically, and even by alphabet clusters. I’d just as soon a given day didn’t have everyone whose last name begins with “R.” Still, observant observers will observe that some names come up with some frequency, until I go through the quotes I’ve grabbed for those names.

So, that’s what’s going on in the world of WIST. Hope you’re finding it all (except for those occasional bits of administrivia) entertaining, thought-provoking, and interesting.


Added on 22-May-08; last updated 22-May-08
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Administrivia: Searching with Yahoo!

Google has been very slow to rebuild its indexing of WIST, for reasons I can’t quite figure out. Granted, I originally caused the problems by unintentionally blocking the Googlebots IPs, but I’ve had that fixed for a couple of months. Still, when I look at “visitors” I’m seeing only a handful of Googlebot hits.
Yahoo’s Yslurp bot, though, has been hitting WIST like crazy, so I’ve added a Yahoo search box in the sidebar as yet another way to search WIST.
As an example of the disparity, a search for “liberty” comes up with 137 results in Yahoo, 71 in Google. On the other hand, I like the Google results better — the Yahoo outputs include lots of bits here and there that aren’t WIST-oriented, and it picks up the page description in the results text every time, which is a bit annoying.
But, for the moment, Yahoo’s results counts are coming out better, so I’ll be leaving the box there for the time being.


Added on 4-May-08; last updated 4-May-08
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Administrivia: Screens, searches, speed, and summaries

I’ve modified the screen layout for the author pages and the individual post pages to be two-column, rather than three. That should make reading a bit easier, and improve the crawling of the pages for the author info and quotation text.
The Google search feature is currently not working as well as I’d like, since I managed to inadvertently ban Google’s spiders from the site. My bad. That problem is fixed, but it may take Google a while to get up to speed. In the mean time, the non-Google search works passably well.
Most of the WIST pages are produced dynamically, which means the server builds what they look like on the fly from the WIST database. That’s very space-efficient, but it does slow down page loads and makes WIST more sensitive to any server slowdowns. I’m pondering going to static publishing, which creates a physical file for each page (i.e., for each quotation, for each author’s quotes, etc.); that would significantly speed up loading to any given page (and probably improve Google’s searches), but would each up a chunk of disk space, and would make each posting a bit slower for me to make (and redesigns aot more painful). As I said, I’m pondering.
Finally, I’ve now got a little “X quotes and growing” line at the top of the main page. The number is a little misleading, as it’s an entry count, and so it includes these occasional Administrivia items. That’s a small number (a couple of dozen), so I feel good enough about the number to live with it.
UPDATE: I’ve gone ahead and done the author and quotation pages as static pages. Let’s see how that works.
UPDATE: I’ve also revised all page formats, except the front page, to use the same two-column format. It makes for a cleaner, easier interface, and a better standard across the site. I’ve also shifted to using SSIs for most of the sidebar information, to reduce disk storage.


Added on 24-Mar-08; last updated 24-Mar-08
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Administrivia: Back on track

Apologies for the hiatus the past few days — illness, weekend, and a business trip far busier than expected are all to blame. We should be back on track for three added quotes daily starting today, and if I get a chance we may get a few extra tossed in to make up for it.


Added on 19-Mar-08; last updated 19-Mar-08
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Administrivia: E-mail Quote of the Day!

Interested in getting quotations delivered right to your e-mailbox daily? Have we got a deal for you!
I have a Feedburner e-mail feed set up for this site. While it won’t select a random quote, it will send you a copy of every quote I add to WIST (usually 3-4 each weekday). That’s not a single Quote of the Day, but 3-4 Quotes of the Day! What a deal!
You’ll get an e-mail each evening titled “Your WIST quotation update.” It’s all handled through Feedburner, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Just click here.


Added on 12-Jan-08; last updated 12-Jan-08
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Administrivia: Upgrade

I’ve updated this blog to MT 4.01. It appears to have gone smoothly, and everything seems to be working, but if you run across any problems, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Added on 5-Jan-08; last updated 5-Jan-08
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Administrivia: Great Googley-Moogley!

I’ve found the FastSearch add-in for MT to be pretty handy — quick, and eminently configurable to look like any other page here. But it does have some limitations, most especially in not being able to search by author.
So I’ve added into the sidebar a customized Google search bar, which harnesses the power of Google (yadda-yadda) and does a search just within the site. It should be a good additional tool for folks (myself included) to use in accessing content here at WIST. It’s advantages:
1. It’s Google-fast. Whee!
2. It searches everything on the page, including the author and biography and all that.
A few limits the Google search has:
1. As I have it set up, the result page isn’t very customized. A little WIST logo, that’s it. There are some ways to do more of that sort of thing (bringing results to one of my own pages, for example), but that was more time than I had to immediately invest.
2. The search isn’t very discriminating content-wise, just as Google is not. You may get individual quotations back, author pages back, even the front page (if that’s where a quote match was), all mixed together. If I’d known I was doing this, I would have organized the virtual pages here differently — but I didn’t, and it’s kind of too late now. You also end up with any sort of match — if I have a particular word in the sidebar, it will flood every result.
3. It’s a Google search result — you get a little context, but not necessarily the whole quote.
4. The content is limited to the last time Google crawled the page. A quote I entered in the past few days most likely won’t show up (not sure how often Google crawls here, but it’s not hourly, that’s for sure).
But that all said, I’m pretty happy with it as an added tool in the WIST tool kit. Heck, if it works out well here, I might use it on my main blog …


Added on 8-Dec-07; last updated 8-Dec-07
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Administrivia: Busy, busy, busy

Sorry about the gap in posting new quotes here — life’s been busy, and I’ve hardly been spending any time online the past week or so. Regular posting will resume shortly.


Added on 18-Nov-07; last updated 18-Nov-07
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Administrivia: State of the WIST

Things are running pretty stable as far as visitors goes. I wouldn’t mind seeing more, but I’m seeing enough traffic to make it worthwhile for me.
I’ve been pretty consistent with putting 3+ quotes up every weekday — and not just quotes but quotes with some research into where it was actually said. I’ve been going through multiple sources to keep a (hopefully) good variety. Remember, if you subscribe via e-mail, you’ll get those quotes delivered straight to your in-box.
I keep seeing Google and Yahoo both indexing pages, so hopefully more folks will continue to find WIST.
One thing that I have been light on is feedback. A few comments, but not as much as the visitor stats would warrant. Feel free, then, to comment on quotes you like, suggest new ones, to link back to a particular quote, or to comment on posts like this as to what you’d like to see here at WIST.


Added on 5-Nov-07; last updated 5-Nov-07
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Administrivia: Master of my own domain?

I have a post over on my main blog about problems with the .info top-level domain being associated with spamming and malware — even though there are perfectly legitimate users of it (such as WIST, and New York’s MTA), and the rate of “bad stuff” isn’t all that much higher than from .com domains.
The current problem is that some software vendors and hosts are actually discriminating or blocking things associated with .info, e.g., Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger, as well as some mail systems that block or downcheck e-mail from a .info domain.
I don’t plan on changing the WIST site any time soon — but I will be monitoring the situation.


Added on 11-Oct-07; last updated 11-Oct-07
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Administrivia: The Mysterious Gil Atkinson

Everybody knows who, say, George Bernard Shaw was. And it’s not likely anyone’s going to question which “Abraham Lincoln” to whom to attribute an Abraham Lincoln quote.

But then you get someone like “Gil Atkinson.” There are a ton of Gil Atkinson quotes on the net. But who is Gil Atkinson. Ah … there’s the rub.

Ninety-nine percent of the quotes in Google have nothing other than the name. A very few identify him as an inventor and businessman (1827-1905) of that name, who invented the automatic sprinkler. There are also a couple of cases where the quotes are attributed to an American historian by that name.
Problem is, the quotes themselves are all over the map. A couple sound plausible from an historian. A couple of others from an inventor (though few of those sound appropriate for someone writing at the turn of the 20th Century). Most of them sound like a (rather trite) motivational speaker or sales consultant (and are quoted most enthusiastically by those same sorts). But there are no Gil Atkinson websites, no “live” comments by him anywhere on the web (by that name), and no books at Amazon by him.

And none of the sources touting they know “who” Gil Atkinson is are reliable enough for me to just take their word — and assume they didn’t just plug in a description from elsewhere.

So, who was Gil Atkinson? Or who are they? Are we talking about multiple folk by that name, of different professions, and how, without actually finding the source of some of these quotes can one really, actually tell?

My conclusion — though I originally had my (one) Gil quote attributed to a contemporary historian, I’m going to backtrack on that, and just leave the name as a contemporary (based on the vocabulary and syntax of the quotes). Which really irks me, but what can you do?

Anyone with any citeable insight into this is more than welcome to chime in.


Added on 19-Sep-07; last updated 15-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Mary, Mary, Mary …

Though you’d never know it from a lot of quotation sites (including, I’ve discovered, my own), there is in fact a difference between Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley — which difference is sometimes muddled by the latter sometimes being known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and both of them sometimes being referred to as Mary Godwin (after MW’s husband, and MS’s father, William Godwin).
Mary Wollstonecraft was a philosopher and commenter on human rights. Mary Shelley was the author of (among other things) Frankenstein. Their quotations are quite different, but often appear misapplied one author to another.
So when recording in a quotation from one or the other of these ladies, do a little bit of research to confirm that your source has the right author. There’s enough bad quotation info out there — no point in adding to it if you can help it.


Added on 18-Sep-07; last updated 18-Sep-07
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Administrivia: WISTfulness

I chose the WIST acronym to go with the natural, catchy phrase, “Wish I’d Said That!” I did note at the time I grabbed the domain (long after) that the .com version of the domain was long gone — which was okay, because the .info domain was a natural for a site like this. (Though, to be sure — how many .info domains are there? Should be a lot more, IMO.)
Anyway, a miskeying led me to a whole bunch of sites that share the WIST name, if not exact domain:

  1. Wist Auto Products (proud owners of the .com).
  2. WIST Radio
  3. Wists (Web Lists, a “social wish list” shopping bookmark site)
  4. Women In Surgical Training (an organization within the Royal College of Surgeons)
  5. The Wist Family (proud owners of the .org)
  6. WIST (a PHP Web interface)
  7. WIST (a NASA Warehouse Inventory Search Tool)
  8. WIST (Women in Sport Touring – a women’s motorcycling site)
  9. wist (the archaic form of “wit” as in “knew”)

Glad to have met each of you (virtually) and to share your name.


Added on 30-Aug-07; last updated 30-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Status report

It’s been a bit over a month since I relaunched WIST, and I’m pretty much pleased as punch with how it’s going. I’ve been adding 3-5 quotes a day at least, so subscribers to the feed or the e-mail delivery are getting their money’s worth, and traffic is slowly increasing, which is also quite nice.
Feel free, as a visitor, to leave feedback. Except for spammers — spammers can fry in hell. But the rest of you are surely welcome here.


Added on 29-Aug-07; last updated 29-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Sidebar fun

A couple of sidebar notes.
1. I’ve added a new “Research Info” link list into the right-hand sidebar. It’s got some of the sites I use most often to find/source quotations and to get biographical info on the authors. I plan on writing a more complete article on that at some point to replace the links to earlier posts where I discuss those topics (in the “WIST Info” sidebar section), but for now, aside from “Google is your friend,” those are the places I would point anyone for sweet quotey action.
2. I now am keeping a list of the three most recent entries here over on the sidebar of my main blog. That will, I hope, drive a bit more traffic here. We’ll see.


Added on 23-Aug-07; last updated 23-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Swoosh!

I’ve installed Fast Search on this blog and — yow! Searches that used to take take 15, 30, 60 seconds with the out-of-the-box search capabilities all come back in just 2 or 3. It’s fantastic.
There are a few limitations vs. the normal MT search. It doesn’t do comments (yet) — but that’s not really a problem here. It’s search parameters are a bit more limited — no Regex, no Case Sensitivity, no OR or NOT.
But if you’re looking for a word or two in a quotation here (or a fragment of 4 letters or more), the new Search will rock your world.
I’ll probably be installing it (as an option) on my other blogs. But the best fit was here. If it continues to perform the way it has over the next week, I’ll definitely be dropping something in the tip jar.


Added on 17-Aug-07; last updated 17-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Sourcing notes

Some evolving thoughts here on noting the sources of quotation (as part of their citations).
In my old Access database, I had a column for in the quotes table for “source,” where I would put where I’d found something — not necessarily the origin of the quote, but where I’d gotten it (in case someone said, “Hey, where did that come from?”). Often it was a hyperlink — sometimes to the article in question (e.g., a quote from someone in Time magazine), or to a Bartleby entry, or to a primary source.
(If someone is only quoted in a second party’s work, I’ve often shied away from using that work as the citation, both because of the space involved and because it’s a secondary source. I have not been consistent about this, however.)
I also used the field for notes about the quotation — “Not found in the works of Fred Smith,” or “Also attributed to Joe Bloggs,” or “Sometimes given as ‘alternative translation.'”
I hadn’t displayed that material in my previous WIST collection, but I made a conscious decision this time out to do so. It’s the follow-up sans serif text that appears underneath some quote. In some cases it’s an URL, in other cases it’s notes on the source.
One thing I’ve discovered, though, is that I can now easily make actual hyperlinks out of this material. Rather than just giving the URL to the Bartleby page, I can say “Source” and make that a hyperlink to that URL. That may clean up the look of things, and allow for some more even useful ways of putting stuff in here. I’d do something similar in the actual citation (e.g., link to the essay or book or whatever), but the “Title” field in MT isn’t as suited to that (just as the Category Description isn’t well suited to putting in a hyperlink for the Wiki page for an author).
I don’t plan on en masse going back and cleaning these things up, but I will do a bit of cleaning as I go along in adding new and updating old material.


Added on 16-Aug-07; last updated 16-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Performance issues

I’m not happy about the peformance going to individual author pages. In part that’s because archives are the most complex item for MT serve up, and the individual authors are categories.
I’m seriously considering turning the normal author categories into permanent (static) files, rather than dynamic. That should dramatically improve performance, but …

  1. The disk storage will go way up.
  2. Posting new stuff will take a bit longer (an added file to generate).
  3. category rebuilds will seriously churn things up even more.
  4. I do occasionally rename categories (authors) – will that leave obsolete files out there. Yeah, probably. Trivial issue, I think, but worth considering.

I’m most concerned with #1 and #3, esp. #3. It irks me to do rebuilds, and the category rebuild is already a huge churn.
I will ponder this.


Added on 15-Aug-07; last updated 15-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Administrivia in the sidebar

A moderate design shift for the front page. Rather than having the most recent Adminstrivia post showing at the top of the first page, I’ll have an excerpt of the most recent Adminstrivia in the sidebar on the front page — something visible for those looking for such things, but not getting in the way of the quotations.
Because, after all — the quotations are what it’s all really about.


Added on 14-Aug-07; last updated 14-Aug-07
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Administrivia: So … what next?

So now that the dust has more or less settled on the WIST redesign comes the question, “what next?”
In particular, options include:
1. Continue to add more quotes.
2. Revisit existing quotes without decent citation and work on cleaning those up.
3. Improve the search speed.
4. Try to figure out a “quote of the day” functionality.
5. Come up with a good resources page with the current places I get or research quotes from.
Anything else you can think of? This site is for your use, after all.
Two previously-requested options are not likely:
1. Allow users to add quotes: Sorry, this isn’t Wikiquote (which is, in fact, a wonderful site). I’d rather not open things up to the world to break/spam the site. Though, that said, if you have a quote you want to see in here, leave it in a comment in some post (I’ll see it) or contact me by e-mail, and I’ll see what I can do. (If I don’t care for the quotation, I won’t use it, but there’s no accounting for my tastes).
2. Tag/categorize quotes: Not only would this be a massive task with the existing 5K-odd quotes at the moment, but I’ve always found such schemes and taxonomies to be somewhat arbitrary and rarely complete. Honestly, I find word searches a better way to find what one’s looking for. There may be ways of opening that up to the public — but that runs smack-dab into the spamming thing again.


Added on 13-Aug-07; last updated 13-Aug-07
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Administrivia: An unexpected benefit

A previously unexpected benefit of my new database / layout / etc. here at WIST has come to my attention. I can see, if I Google around a bit, various folks who have wholesale copy-pasted huge swathes of the previous version of WIST pages to their own quote pages. (It’s not quite spotted by the same trick as dictionary publishers who put in false words — but it’s related, if uintentional.)
Now, I don’t mind sharing the wealth. By the very nature of a quotations database, that would be silly. And heaven knows I’ve garnered quotes from a lot of places, online and off.
But … there’s a reason I have a Creative Commons “By” license off in the margin. If you copy stuff from here — especially big chunks o’ stuff — I do ask and expect some sort of attribution or link-back or hat-tip. Because the work I’ve put into gathering this info is a lot more than just copying and pasting stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing material, updating it, arranging it, etc. A few props wouldn’t be out of line.
And, at any rate, that sort of mass copying won’t be as feasible. Previous iterations of WIST had whole letters of the alphabet’s authors, with their quotes, on a page. Now only a given author’s quote are on a page, and each one has the author citation at the page top. So someone who wants to borrow something has to do a little bit of work to do so. That’s not intended to discourage finding and using quotations that you like — but it’s a nice unintended consequence that many, many hours or work cannot be simply copied with a single swipe of the mouse and a few clicks.


Added on 8-Aug-07; last updated 8-Aug-07
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Administrivia: WIST-by-Mail

Well, the site’s been up for a few weeks now, and all seems to be pretty stable. I’m enjoying plahying with the e-mail feed service from Feedburner, which provides a very nice daily e-mail of any quotations added to the database. Since I’m trying to add one or two every day, that’s not a bad deal. Check it out in the sidebar under “Subscribe by e-mail” …


Added on 6-Aug-07; last updated 6-Aug-07
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Administrivia: Welcome!

Welcome to the new WIST. I’ve been pounding away at this, on and off, for the last year, and it’s finally ready (I hope!) for prime time.

I’ve been collecting quotations for many years. I’ve had my collection online in one form or another for a number of years, but it was always a rather clumsy, static thing. I’ve devised this new site to use Movable Type as a sort of quotations database. You can read more about it in the general Administrivia category, but for the moment it simply means that I can no much more easily add and edit quotations online. It also means that you can more easily find things around here, as well as comment on quotations I have (e.g., to provide a citation, or to point out an error or duplicate).

With the capability to comment comes a sense that WIST is becoming more of a community effort. While I’ll continue to post quotations up myself (not giving up that particular “power”), your feedback is essential in improving the site and, most importantly, its content.

I’ve been beta testing the site for the last week or two, so I know it works. When I shift it from its test site to the actual wist.info domain, a few things might break, so have patience while I pound away at them.

One thing that’s changing with the new system is dropping the “WIST” quote-a-day mail. It’s something I’ve been, as you know (if you subscribed) pretty lax about recently, especially as I continued work on this site. Instead, though, what you are welcome to do is to subscribe to this site either via RSS (directly or via Feedburner) or by e-mail. Then any new quotations added, whenever they happen, will appear to you automatically. And, yes, that will be an incentive for me to keep adding quotes.


Added on 24-Jul-07; last updated 15-Apr-09
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Administrivia: Attributed?

In putting together WIST, I realized I really needed to fill in the post title for all quotes (I believe MT actually requires it). Since I’m using the citation for the title (which was a brilliant improvisation but has caused me no end of trouble in displaying stuff), I had to deal with the vast majority of quotes I have that have no actual citation associated with them.
Alas, people tend to throw quotes out there with just the author, not with any idea of where it comes from. Sometimes you can find it with extensive use of Google and other references (and I’ll toot my horn to say that, for the ones I’ve researched, I’ve added a lot of hitherto-unknown citations to common quotes out on the Net). Sometimes not. And sometimes you just don’t have time.
Enter “(Attributed).” If I don’t know where something came from — either because it’s just plain old not known, or because the source hasn’t been cited, that’s what I’m using for the citation. Because, honestly, unless you can point to where it was originally said by the person, it is, in fact, just “attributed” to them, no matter how much people “know” it was said.


The “open beta” is still going on (cue crickets chirping), and the post for commenting can be found down here.


Added on 24-Jul-07; last updated 24-Jul-07
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Administrivia: Open Beta!

I’m throwing this open to an “open beta” amongs the folks who read my blog. Please comment below.
I’m most interested in structural/site issues: menu options that go to strange places, things that don’t seem to be working quite right (or at all), stuff like that.
Aesthetic notes (“Ew! Where did you get those colors?!”) are welcome, too.
Feel free to offer up favorite quotes, too, but I’d rather you hold onto those for post-go-live.


Added on 17-Jul-07; last updated 17-Jul-07
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Administrivia: WIST v2 Notes

The new version of WIST makes full use of Movable Type as a database to make it a lot easier to search, comment, edit, and add to the quotation database.
Essentially, each quotation is an entry/post; the title is the citation, and the extended entry field is used for source material or other notes. Each author is a category (using the Category Description for the long author citation), with a couple of special categories for Administrivia, “other” authors, and sig lines.
Finding just the right combo of fields that I could search on, display when needed, etc., was a bit of a trick. I talk about it much greater length on my regular blog (especially here), and random vagueries of my schedule made it a much longer process than anticipated. But … I think things are just about ready to release to beta.
Good things about this arrangement

  1. I can easily add new entries and have them show up immediately.
  2. I can update/edit/revise or even delete entries and have it immediately show up.
  3. It’s a database. A real database. All sorts of possibilities there.
  4. Relational database (Categories to Posts, i.e., Authors to Quotes). Nice.
  5. Search by text is much easier.
  6. I can get comments. (And trackbacks, though that’s unlikely.)

Not-so-good things about this arrangement:

  1. Search by author isn’t organic; it requires going to the author page and doing a browser search there (or doing it via Google). That’s just kind of awkward.
  2. The huge number of categories (authors) is pushing the speed limits of MT, especially when I go in to edit them (e.g., add new authors, update biographical data). It also means I can use most MT external clients.
  3. Some difficulties in managing different types of archive displays (and links thereto). Admin posts are substantively different from quotation posts, and should display differently. I’ve finally bashed that into shape, I think, but there are likely ‘behind the scenes” bits that will be more difficult to maintain because of it.
  4. Weird visual oddities from the post “Titles” being the citations — the vast majority of which are “(Attributed),” but even where there is a cite, it doesn’t include the author name.
  5. Some of the hiccups between MT’s dynamic and static arrangements meant I had to make more pages static than I wanted, requiring more rebuilds.

Most of the “not-nice” bits are more inconvenience and extra work in setting it up than in what the visitor will see. I hope. 🙂


Added on 17-Jul-07; last updated 17-Jul-07
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Administrivia: Slouching toward Beta

I’m pretty close to having the site ready for an “open beta” — announce it on my normal blog (nofollow) and let folks come check it out and try to break it. The dancing around between multiple category archives is causing me problems, but I think I have all the labeling finished.
I’m not happy about the resolution of author searches — directing folks to the All Authors pages and telling them to search there — but it’s workable. The only alternative is using Google for searching (which may yet happen).
Things still to do:

  1. Going through each page.
  2. Doing a FireFox vs IE6 comparison.
  3. Create a Favicon (this can happen during Beta)
  4. Modify the default search template: Include the category (author), delete the blog author (me)
  5. Modify the default search template: Mention / link to the All Authors page.

Post go-live:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Feedburner

Like I said — close.


Added on 16-Jul-07; last updated 16-Jul-07
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Administrivia: Working on WIST

I’ve been making great strides toward getting the new version of WIST into shape. I made a breakthrough on the category listings — doing the author categories subsidiary to the alphabet-letter categories, etc. Slowly filling in the sidebar info. Things left to do (of substance) include:
1. Figure out what’s on the front page.
2. How the ~~Admin stuff will be displayed.
3. How the Miscellaneous and Sig Line archives will work.
I really want to get this finished, both because of the improvement it will provide to everyone and so that I can get back to entering stuff into it. 🙂


Added on 1-May-07; last updated 1-May-07
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Administrivia: Doing the Numbers, 2/2007

To update the above, as of the Feb. 2007 upload of data, here are the current WIST stats:

How many of … Feb-07 Aug-03 Feb-02 Nov-00
Miscellaneous Quotations? 475 457 446 400
Non-Miscellaneous Quotations? 4,610 4,233 3,869 3,208
Total Quotations? 5,085 4,690 4,315 3,608
Cited Authors? 1,672 1,632 1,556 1,396

As noted in the News section, this update didn’t add a lot to the system (mostly sourcing clarifications), but it did add some.

As to the current “most popular”:

Who? Rank Count
William Shakespeare 1 98
C.S. Lewis 2 61
Mark Twain 3 54
Ralph Waldo Emerson 4 51
Bill Watterson 5 49
George Bernard Shaw 6 44
Dave Barry 7 39
Ambrose Bierce 8 37
Abraham Lincoln 9 36
G. K. Chesterton 10 34

Alas, FastCounter is no longer functioning here. I have SiteMeter running, but no idea of the “since when” it’s counting. It shows, though a current total number of visits of 73,185. eXTReMe Tracking says the number of unique visitors since Aug. 2003 is 77,459. So I’ll take that number, and add it to the below tally to get:

September 2001: 8,400

Februrary 2002: 12,859

August 2003: 46,958
February 2007: 124,417.

Of those, 71% are from North America (14% from Europe, Finland making up half of that, interestingly), 81% use Windows, 61% are on IE (22% on FireFox), 60% get here from a search engine (half that from web sites, including cross-reference, the Atomz search, and web rings); Google has half the search pie there.

I’m resetting the Extreme search for its new version, so (for my future reference) it will be zeroed out at this point.


Added on 22-Feb-07; last updated 22-Feb-07
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Administrivia: It’s alive! Alive!

After about three-plus years of (apparently) lying fallow, I’ve posted an update to the WIST data.

Why so long?

Well, aside from having a day job and eleventy-dozen other projects going on, WIST as it presently stands takes the better part of a day to fully upload. That means I don’t do it trivially. So I was waiting until I finished my next pass on the database, consisting of trying to source a lot more of the quotations. I’ve done a good job of that (and added a few besides), but had only gotten up to Robert E. Lee last check.

So I’ve not finished that sourcing, and there are some new quote authors I’ve not doubled back on for bio info, and I’m sure all sorts of other little glitches are in there. Consider it (as always) a work in progress, with recommendations or problems always welcome to be reported.

I really want to get this into an online database, for searching purposes as well as for ease of updating. Does anyone know of a good package that runs on Apache/MySQL that would do the trick?

At any rate, thanks for your patience and support.


Added on 22-Feb-07; last updated 22-Feb-07
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Administrivia: Authors

The following are the folks who are currently quoted in WIST, along with a count of how many quotes there are for each.
(The links to the author names should eventually zero in to the first quote on the appropriate page, but for the moment only goes to the appropriate page itself.)
UPDATE: (17-Jul-07) This list as been removed, as there is now a whole page devoted to that (albeit without a quotation count).


Added on 22-Feb-07; last updated 22-Feb-07
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Administrivia: Sidebar messiness

In upgrading to MovableType 3.11, the plug-ins that segregated the sidebars so nicely (for site news vs the alphabetical listings) aren’t working. Sorry for the mess … excuse our dust … your blog donation dollars at work …
UPDATE: Thanks to the FilterCategories and CatX plugins for MT, all is well.


Added on 29-Sep-04; last updated 29-Sep-04
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Administrivia: WIST swag!

Now there’s a WIST store at CafePress, where you can get t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, and other goodies with the WIST logo and some quotation-oriented quotations. Being stylish, chic, and erudite was never this simple! Drop on by and see what you think! (And if you think of a design or quote you’d like to see, let me know!)


Added on 13-Aug-04; last updated 13-Aug-04
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Administrivia: Updates A-F

I’ve researched citations for E and F entries, added some quotes as I came across them, and have re-uploaded everything for A-F (plus the Authors list).
Slow slogging, though I’ve discovered two new tools to use:

  • WikiQuote is an offshoot of Wikipedia. Some good info there, though very uneven and a work-in-progress.
  • Amazon now has full-text searches for many of its books. A great way to find more detailed cites (though the Amazon search engine is fairly limited in its options).

The work continues …


Added on 30-Jun-04; last updated 30-Jun-04
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Administrivia: Updates to A-D

Finally got the “D” page updated, and so uploaded the most recent “A-C” pages as well (since, as I go, sometimes things get added).
Most interesting feature of “D” (that I can recall over four months) was discovering there were two Will Durants I was quoting.


Added on 15-Feb-04; last updated 15-Feb-04
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Administrivia: W, not V

A reader was kind enough to point out that the W page was showing V quotes. I discovered what the error was, and things seem to be working again.
I encourage folks to write me (via the Contact Me link in the sidebar) if you run across errors in structure or format. WIST relies on your help!


Added on 12-Sep-03; last updated 12-Sep-03
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Administrivia: Updates to A, B, and C

Finished going through A, B, and C for citations, and the updated files have been posted. (Of course, I added a bunch of quotes along the way. Otherwise, it would hardly be fun.)


Added on 1-Sep-03; last updated 1-Sep-03
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Administrivia: Author, author!

I’ve reinstated one of the old features from the previous version of WIST, the list of quoted folk, now available in the Authors link in the sidebar.
I’ve not done it as a Table as I did before. It looked good, but, damn, it took forever to load a 1,500 row. Now it’s just bulleted text, and much faster.
The names are hyperlinked; ultimately, they’ll go to anchors on the right page where the person’s quotes start, but I’ll have to change the quotations exports to include those links. For the moment, they go only to the right page.


Added on 26-Aug-03; last updated 26-Aug-03
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Administrivia: Saving Space

Just cut-over from the FrontPage pages to the MT pages. It appears to have gone nearly no hitch (a couple of graphics paths were a tad off).
One intersting item is looking at system resources used.
In FrontPage, the system took up 4.2Mb of space, consisting of 803 files in 41 folders under root.
In MT, the system takes up 2.2Mb of space, 153 files, 1 folder under root.
Note that’s with 300 extra quotations. And with all the content being duplicated between two directories (for odd reasons I won’t go into here).
Sweet.


Added on 20-Aug-03; last updated 20-Aug-03
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Administrivia: Doing the numbers, 8/2003

For those who are interested in such things, here are some stats related to WIST.
First off, how many quotes do I actually have here?
Tally of quotations
Hmmm. Looks like I’ve been slacking. In reality, though, I’ve been focusing on cleaning up and fleshing out citations. Quality over quantity, so to speak.
Secondly, who said what — and who are the most “popular” quote-makers here?
Most popular quoteds
Bear in mind, of course, that things like having a Shakespeare Quote-a-Day calendar could influence the count …
One last bit — total visitors to the front page of WIST since June 1999 have gone as follows:
September 2001: 8,400
Februrary 2002: 12,859
August 2003: 46,958
Cool!


Added on 19-Aug-03; last updated 19-Aug-03
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Administrivia: Searching glances

I neglected to mention that I’m using Atomz for the search engine here. As a free (limited) service, they do some very slick search stuff, and because they provide contextual results (showin the words they found, in context), they are ideal here. I heartily recommend them.
UPDATE (24 Jul 07): No longer using Atomz, but the internal MT search system (possibly to be someday updated to MT FastSearch, or even possibly MTGoogle). Atomz (now part of WebSideStory) has done well by me, so I still encourage you to consider it in your own site design, even if it doesn’t fit mine any more.


Added on 6-Jun-03; last updated 6-Jun-03
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Administrivia: MT promises

Unlike what I scribed previously, it wasn’t quite as trivial to plug this stuff into MT as I’d hoped, largely because of limits in HTML form entry sizes.
So instead I’m using Server Side Includes to bring in formatted text files to the entries. Still a lot of advantages to doing things this way (not least of which is that content and presentation are logically divided), but I thought I’d mention the problem I ran into.


Added on 6-Jun-03; last updated 6-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Searching glances

Just going to show that I don’t actually search my own database often, I discovered in the MT redesign that the Atomz search index was all frelled up, and since I’d turned off automated reindexing, it had remained frelled up for a lengthy period time. Sorry about that. I’ve turned the scheduled reindexing back on.
One disadvantage to how I’m doing this WIST implementation in MT is that I can’t use MT’s built-in search engine. But, hey-presto, no biggie, because I can still use Atomz — and, it seems, Atomz is actually a better choice, since it gives contextual results. Cool.


Added on 6-Jun-03; last updated 6-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Typography

This listing actually comes from a database I’ve put together myself. The database serves two purposes: to put together the web pages (in which case full typographical control is desireable) and to create the input file for my sig file (in which case the lowest common denominator is desired).
Rather than come up with something elaborate that translates stuff back and forth, for the moment you’ll have to put up with italicized items in the quotation text showing up as *starred*, and _underscored_, and other Net-like typographical conventions. If you don’t like it … sorry. Maybe I’ll do something fancier one of these days.
UPDATE (24 Jul 07): One of these days is now, since, working through MT, I can actually do rich text formatting and the like in HTML. Yay. I did some mass conversions of quotions to turn the _s and *s into italics — in some cases that messed up, so if you spot a problem, please let me know.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Sig files

For my e-mail sigs, I use a program named Siggy by Rick Osborne. It’s the nicest program of its sort on the Net, for my money (which was $0, since it’s freeware). Or at least it best fits my needs, which is much the same thing to me.
Rick Osborne doesn’t offer Siggy publicly any more (since he’s ostensibly making revisions to it), but if enough people ask him nicely, I’ll bet he’d post it again.
UPDATE (24 Jul 07): Don’t use Siggy any more, but it was a keen program for what I needed it for. Thanks again, Rick.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: My database

This quotations list is generated from a Microsoft Access database I threw together in an afternoon, after having absolutely no luck finding a reliable quotations program that did what I want. Once upon a time I’d have written a full-blown program myself, but my hair has gotten too pointy (to use a Dilbert reference) for that.
Fortunately, the tools have gotten sophisticated enough that I almost didn’t have to do any programming at all. Hell, it will output both HTML and a text file my sig program will use; it almost makes the bloat worth it.
Almost. What I should be able to do is output this database to a static HTML format with few-to-no problems. But Access 97 had some serious limitations in going from report format to HTML, most particularly the bizarre idea that if a report has page breaks, Access should translate them into separate HTML pages. And Access 2000 either does the same thing, or else only works if you can run ASP on your server (or if you want to), none of which applies to me. Access XP only contniues the trend.
As a result, I had to do exports with manual HTML in them, and then do a lot of manual clean-up, which means that my WIST pages didn’t get updated very often. I load in information into the Access database fairly frequently, but the pages are more like an annual event. Or biennial.
There are other databases I could use, of course. But Access is, ah, easily accessed by me. And certainly it will be around for a while, and I’d hate to get all this stuff into a database that then gets bought out or goes away.
I’ve now thrown Movable Type into the mix having a couple of years of blogging under my belt. The advantage of MT over my previous posting tool, FrontPage, is …
… well, it isn’t FrontPage. Which means it doesn’t insist on occasionaly deleting everything else on my site, it doesn’t crash, and it doesn’t enrich Micro$oft’s coffers.
Beyond that, it lets me control the formatting through templates, and lets me take Access query output (rather than report output) and plug it into the MT entries with relative ease. That’s a Good Thing.
So the way I’m producing this page now is to run a query of all the quotations, with various HTML code bits thrown in. I export that to a text file, input it to Word, tweak around some things to generate line breaks, meld together quotation chunks of over 250 bytes, etc. Then I cut the quotes out by author letter of the alphabet and paste them into their respective 27 quotation entries.
That sounds like a lot of work, but it’s about 25% of what I was doing to get the stuff into FrontPage.
Ideally, I’d still like to produce the static pages directly out of Access, or else come up with some simple, unobtrusive way to generate pages for individual authors. If anyone reading this ….

  • … knows how to make Access output to a static HTML format that doesn’t break at every page …
  • … has an idea for a program to use that will either do much the same, or else will let me keep the database on the Web page without any fancy-schmancy add-ons that ISPs will charge me for …
  • … has an easy way to go from queries to an MT input format that I could repopulate the database with
  • Has any other ideas.

… then I’d love to hear about it. I might even pay for it. A little bit, at least. I’d certainly give credit where credit is due.
UPDATE (24 Jul 07): As later entries note, I’ve gone away from both the Access setup and the need for a custom system to something that works in Movable Type. Which only slighly bends the product beyond its parameters, so it’s all good. Would I mind a full-blow online quotations database dropping into my lap? No, but the need for it is a whole lot less urgent than it once was.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Whence do I get my quotations?

(And why the heck do I say “whence”?)
I’ve been collecting quotes for years. Here are some good places I’ve found for the budding (or wilting) researcher.
Books of quotations: Yeah, I actually read these things. Scary, isn’t it? Bartlett’s is the classic here, but Bergen Evans’ Dictionary of Quotations (which I borrowed in college from my friend, Dave Sutherland, and took to like a crack addict) is an even better source. One of these days I’ll list my quotation books more thoroughly.
Internet mailing lists: There are dozens of Internet mailing lists which will shoot you one or more quotes a day. I used to have an extensivel list here of ones that I subscribed to, but I realized that (a) I really was getting way too much e-mail, and (b) I was getting way too many repeats. Do some Googling on “quotation mailing list” and similar bits, or search in various mailing list directories (e.g., Yahoo).
Quote-a-day calendars: I always try to get at least one per year. Now you know what to get me for Christmas. This sometimes distorts my statistics, but, what the heck, it’s good fodder.
Internet research: Just do a search on “quotes” and “quotations” and stand back. A lot of places are pretty awful, but there are some real gems out there. I’d recommend the Bartleby.com quotations page. This has the (searchable) contents of the 1919 Bartlett’s, the 1996 Columbia World of Quotations, and the 1998 Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, making up some 86k quotes all told. The citations are pretty good, too.
Another good site is Xrefer, though much of its content is no longer free.
Sometimes, especially with contemporary or “gaffe” quotes, verifying them is also important. The Urban Legends Reference Pages does some good debunking here.
Reading: I read a lot. A lot. If I run across something that looks worth quoting, I quote it. That leads to some authors being quoted in WIST who aren’t found in many other places. Just doing my part to add to the primary material out there.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Can’t tell your players without a program

So, how do I find out who actually said something?
Unfortunately, the Net, where I get a lot of my quotations these days, is no better than anywhere else about citations. In most cases — though not all — you’ll get at least the last name of the person who first crafted the quotation. Sometimes you’ll get a date range for their life. Rarely will you get the name of the work.
I’ve tried to fill in all the citation info in WIST that I can; if you have additional data or corrections, please feel free to contact me at the address in the sidebar.
The biggest problem one has in this sort of endeavor, after just plain old getting the data, is something most people probably wouldn’t think of: how to order people’s names.
For example, Fred von Smith. Is that under “V” or under “S”? If you set up a rule saying it should be “V” but everyone refers to him as just “Smith,” should that change your mind?
And there is, alas, no consensus. The two works I consulted most, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and my Webster’s Biographical Dictionary both came to opposite conclusions on the matter in a number of cases. They also had some intereresting variant spellings of names.
I’ve tried to take my cue from Bartlett’s. Where writers have pseudonyms, I have grouped their quotes under the more common name. The Search box should let you find where something is.
The other questionable item is nationality. Once I decided I wanted to give a little bit of biographical info on the various authors (since that provides context for the quotes), I initially took the lead from the Webster’s, which seems to use the nation in which the person eventually flourished (and or became a citizen of). Thus, Einstein was American. Later, I found that a number of places gave a mixed heritage — birthplace and flourish-place. So Einstein would become a German-American. I’ve made some changes based on that practice, but I’m not yet consistent.
Okay, one other possible stumbling block. Who actually said something? This can take a number of forms:

  • A citation says “Jones,” with no other reference as to which Jones actually said it. This is relatively rare. Sometimes the name is so famous (Hawthorne, Melville), it’s obvious. Other times, it’s a crap shoot. A related problem is two people with the same name, but at different periods, who could have said something (the two Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior and Junior, for example, or the two Senecas). I’ve made my best guess at this, but welcome any corrections.
  • Did the person to whom a quotation is attributed actually say it? Or were they quoting somebody else? The more general the aphorism, the more people who may have said it (the record that I’ve found is five distinct names attributed to a particular quotation). Did they all say it? Were they quoting a common source, or coming up with a similar idea independently?
    And, of course, there are problems with possible misspellings of attributions. I have a citation for a quote that says it was made by Fred Jonson. Nobody by that name in Webster’s, but there’s a Fred Johnson in there. Was the attribution a typo? Do I look like an idiot for changing the citation, or look like an idiot for leaving it as is?

When it comes to names, the other issue is how much of the name to put in. If someone has many given names (Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill), should it be cited as such? If someone is usually known by the first initials (H. L. Mencken), should I spell out those names? If someone is commonly known by their middle name (John Calvin Cooledge), is there value in giving the first name? I’ve made a number of choices here, trying to reach a balance between accuracy and still having the person be recognizable. Your mileage may vary. Mine certainly does each time I go through this exercise.
Given that I don’t have a wide array of biographical tools to exhaustively research every individual, and that I’ve grabbed the quotes where I can, sometimes the name listings are a little slim, missing dates, even first names. If you know who is being referred to there, please write me and let me know. (I would say, conservatively, that it takes me as much time to research and update my author biographies as it takes me to gather the quotes in the first place.)
One place I’ve found to search for biography is (surprise!) on the Net. It’s by no means a sure thing, and the tendency of quotations (complete with errors and misattributions) to be passed around the Web like monks passing along typos from copy to copy is certainly a barrier to good scholarship.
I’d say that WIST is one of the better-researched sites, but I acknowledge that the level of confidence in attributions should be placed somewhere around a high school senior paper.
That having been said, a few particularly good places on the Web to research:

Or, of course, you can just do a Google search for the name (searching both “Firstname Lastname” and “Lastname, Firstname” often gives different results). That’s what I did this most recent pass for all the names I couldn’t find otherwise.
Sometimes, when not able to find anything about “Reginald Knickerbocker,” I’ve found doing a Web look-up on the quotation is sometimes productive. You may find that the quite is attributed to “Reg Knickerbocker” (about whom you can further research). You may also find that the quotation is actually attributed to Hyman Fernly, which is valuable information in and of itself.
Some people can’t be found, at least through the Web. Since this is not my Real Job, I don’t have time to do more research than I do, but it’s still a bit disconcerting when the only thing on the Web about Hyman Fernly is that he uttered a particular sentence. It does make one wonder.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: E-mail? How positively 1990!

In June 2001 I started running a free “quote a day” e-mail list. In April 2002, I changed from Topica (great service, excellent price, ugly ads) to my own listserver.
You can subscribe to it by going here.


Since I have some space to kill here, I’ll answer one of my most frequently asked questions (thus demonstrating that nobody asks me any questions), “So how do you put your daily WIST together?”
Well, around 5:30 p.m. or so, every day, I get a reminder up on my computer screen. “Have you sent your WIST today?” If I didn’t get this sort of warning, it would never happen. Read from that what you will.
I open up a blank e-mail. I put in the address I have for posting mail to my list.
I go into the body, and click on my “signature” button. This pulls in a random sig line from my copy of Siggy (see “Software” for more information).
Unless it’s something completely wrong for the day, I then glean a one or two word subject, put it in the subject line, and click Send. And away it goes.
My host’s MailMan magic mailing system does the rest of the work, appending in all the other stuff that fills each post.
I occasionally do a “theme” week, but by and large, it’s all randomly selected for your WISTing pleasure.
And now you know. And, as GI Joe would say, knowing is half the battle.
UPDATE: (17-Jul-07) I’ve disabled the mail link above because the new setup doesn’t support an automated process, and I’m not going to continue the WIST-by-mail unless that’s working (or is trivial to do).


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Other resources

Here are some other fine resources, web rings, and the like you might want to consider in looking for quotations.
I’m a member of:

Quotation Ring Homepage, including joining infoNext site in the Quotation RingA random Quotation Ring siteView a list of all Quotation Ring sites

Quotation Ring


I’m also a part of the following WebRing sites:

Quotes
[

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Ring Hub
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Quotes
Are Our Friends!
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Famous
Quotes Webring
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Ring Hub
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Inspirational Quotes
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The
Galaxy Of Quotes
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Quotes ‘R
Us
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And let us not forget:

Click to go to BeMoreCreative.com

Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Organization

WIST is organized by author, alphabetically (I’d love to be even more elaborate, but that must wait for a future revision). The letter links in the sidebar will take you to the page of those authors with names beginning in that letter. You can also search for authors (or quotation text, or sources) in the Search box.
(The section of links under that goes to various other informational parts of the WIST site. The Sources section includes information on how I alphabetized some names.)
Where items are cited to Anonymous or where ordering them by author name makes no sense (because it’s a one-off quote by an obscure individual), I’ve put them under the “~Misc” category. I’ve also included sig lines in that category where:

  • It’s a quip, a bon mot, something that would fit on a bumper sticker or a button.
  • Who said it is utterly unknown, or else who said it is so well known that to cite it adds no value and detracts from the quippiness.
  • Where I felt like it.

Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Introduction

I’ve been collecting quotes, aphorisms, maxims, and sig lines since junior high (which is more years ago than I care to relate). I read books of quotations. I dog-ear pages in books I’m reading so that I can come back later and copy particularly good bits out. And, more recently, I quickly jot quotes I see down in my Palm so I can have a record of them.
When I first put together a quotations collection (a hard-copy effort, given as a Christmas gift to people who didn’t mind something that was cheap if it had the personal touch), I called the collection “WIST” for “Wish I’d Said That.”
That name is important because it’s not altogether true. This is not just a collection of quotations whose sentiments I agree with. In some cases there are ideas that I disagree with, firmly; in those cases, though, I’ve included the quote either because I admire the turn of phrase or else I thought it was so absurd, it made me smile just to read it.
But me repeat that in big, bold lettering, so that people don’t miss it:

Just because I quote it here doesn’t mean I agree with it.

In other words, don’t e-mail me a complaint just because I quoted someone saying something you object to.
Now, the fact is, I do agree with most of what I quote here. Hopefully it will become pretty obvious when I don’t (or, again, when it isn’t a matter of agreement, but just enjoying a particular expression of thought). And, of course, there are some quotations where I agree with them sometimes, disagree with others.
So if I don’t always wish I’d said something, why not change the name? Tradition, I suppose, plus it’s a handy catch phrase.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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Administrivia: Playing with Movable Type

I’m experimenting with how to make WIST work, with minimum fuss and maximum ease of updating, in MT. So far, so good.
One potential problem is that I want to have different ways of presenting entries — the alphabetical quotation pages very stripped down, but things like these News entries with the full date info and so forth. Haven’t figured that one out yet.


Added on 2-Jun-03; last updated 2-Jun-03
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