"Well what else would he do?" I hear you cry.

Chopin was a great composer. I mean, a really, really great composer. One of his strengths was that he never fell prey to the temptation to lengthen a piece just so it wouldn't be so short.

Take, for instance, his prelude in B major, in 6/8 time. The whole thing fits on a page of sheet music, with generous room between lines for the pianist to write comments or fingering. It's marked vivace, which, for those who don't speak something Romantic or musical, means vivacious and generally implies really damned fast. So the piece takes about forty seconds to play. Did Chopin say "shit, it's only forty seconds, that's not long enough, I'd better pad it out and put in some shit that doesn't need to be there"? No, he just said "Yep, that's forty really good seconds, that's all there is in this piece, and that's all I'm gonna write."

Why the hell am I blathering about this? Well, this thought just occurred to me as I wrote two very short writeups and then saw them predictably downvoted as I neurotically checked my writeup statistics. I will freely admit they weren't fabulous writeups, and I didn't mean them to be - they didn't merit magnificence, they just merited a quick explanation. They were pointers to other nodes, and the reason was that they were shorthand terms for longer words or phrases which had already been noded.

Why bother noding them, then? Because it occurred to me that a newcomer to the community that uses the terms in question could read an entire mailing list or USENET post, or hear an entire converation, without ever hearing the long form of the terms. If I were such a newcomer and I was a user of everything, I might go ask everything what the terms meant and then, voila, it would tell me and I'd be gloriously happy. (Well, not me, but one of the users in my internalized user model I consider when I node.)

"Well, if they're more commonly used in the short form, why didn't you just node the short form and leave the long form un-noded?" Because a) the long versions are more 'correct' in the prescriptivist sense, but more importantly because b) then the opposite situation might occur - someone might hear only the long versions and try to look them up here and not find them.

I know in large part I'm over-reacting to a drive-by downvoting, and I'm at peace with that fact. Heck, I've even done it myself - when I first started trying to get the hang of voting I would downvote something just because it was short, but it felt wrong so I stopped doing it after one or two times.

I know we want to encourage lengthy writeups because this is all about content, content, content. But if this is about "all human knowledge, right or wrong", then...
sometimes writeups oughta be short.

But short nodes get downvoted. And for a while I was caught in the trap of noding for numbers so I didn't want to write short writeups. Anyway. Unless someone who has a different and superior understanding of what this is all about whaps me upside the head, I'm going to continue writing short writeups when appropriate - and only when appropriate. If my node is only forty seconds, or one line, long, so be it. If it was good enough for Chopin, it's damn well good enough for me.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.