Wiktionary:Christmas Competition 2008

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This is to announce this year's Christmas competition, which is open to ALL contributors.

The competition is structured a bit differently this year. Instead of having individuals contribute complete and separate entries, participants will score points based on daily participation in a series of concurrent game-like events. You may participate in as many of the game sessions as you wish within the rules and restrictions given below.

How it works[edit]

The contest will include several game sections, each consisting of a word chain. Each game section will appear under its own section header with a chain that is independent of the other chains. Once a new game section appears (I'll start each one off), you may add to that chain. The idea is to have a chain of words that do not overlap themselves, but from which interposing words may be formed. The object of the competition is to score points by extending a chain, by stumping the other participants through stopping the chain, or by getting lucky.

Here is how a game section might look after three turns: (all user signatures are for demonstration purposes only)

The initial word here was bear. Each extension of the chain consists of at least one interposing word and one following word.

To extend the chain, take the final three letters of the last word added. For the first turn in the example above, this is ear-. Find a word that begins with those three letters (in this case earwig). This is called the interposing word in the rules. Format the interposing word in italics and parentheses, then add a following word that (1) begins with at least the last three letters of the interposing word, in this case wig-, but (2) does not include any of the portion from the end of the previous word in the list, and (3) does not leave "unused" letters from the interposing word that are not used in either the preceding or following words. All three points together can be summarized as: the interposing word(s) should be formed by taking the final three letters of the preceding word together with the initial three (or more) letters of the following word, without rearrangement.

In the example above the interposing word's overlap with the previous and following word is exactly three letters in each case, but this is not mandatory. Additional letters of overlap with the following word are permitted, as exemplified in the scoring section below. Do note that interposing words must be at least six letters long, in order to contain both the final three letters of the preceding word as well as at least three other letters to begin the following word. The scoring is what makes this really interesting...

Scoring :

  • +10 for each successful extension of any game section's chain. You may contribute more than once to a particular chain, within the restrictions outlined below.
  • +5 for each additional interposing word. For example, if the first addition to the example chain looked like this:
    bear (earphone, earphones) phonestheme
then the score would be +15, since there is an additional interposing word. Note that both interposing words contain the final three letters of the previous word, and contain at least three letters from the start of the following word.
  • +10 if you are the last participant to extend a particular chain. This could result from selecting a word that prevents other players from extending the chain further, or could result from being the last person to edit that particular chain before the competition closes at UTC 23:59 on 24 December. Be prepared for edit conflicts in the last hour of the contest. Also keep in mind that the "blocking" of a word chain also means that it is no longer available for you to score points from. Multiple additions to a chain can score further points, but only so long as that chain keeps growing. So, blocking may not be the wisest way to score points.
  • +25 if you successfully extend a chain that has not been extended in the previous 72 hours (3 full days). The +25 is received in addition to the score for the extension itself.

Additional rules :

  • All words in the chain must have a Wiktionary entry, and if the word is not a lemma, then the lemma form must also have an entry.
  • Words may be in any language, but must be in a language that uses Roman script. Non-Roman script entries will be allowed only in cases where the language of the entry has an "About" page that unambiguously describes how to transcribe the language's script. This may be in the form of a complete table, or may be a pointer to a site that describes such a transcription system.
  • Spaces, capitalization, and diacritical marks are ignored. For example, ñ and N are considered equivalent for purposes of connecting words in the chain.

Editing restrictions[edit]

There are four editing restrictions on participation:

  1. You may not remove or alter anyone's contribution to the games, and may not retroactively alter your own contributions once someone has contributed after you to that section.
  2. Each participant must alter only one game section per edit. You may not edit multiple sections with a single edit. Each section must be edited separately. Please use section editing to do this, so that the edit history indicates which section was edited.
  3. Each participant may extend each section only once per 24 hour period. Once you have edited a particular game section, you may not extend that same section until at least 24 hours have passed. Note that this is not the same as editing once per day. If you extend a section at 06:00 UTC, you must wait until at least that time the following day to extend that section again. This will permit more participation from more people. This does not restrict you from extending a chain in a different game section; each section has its own 24 hour limitation independent of the others. Nor does this restirct others from adding to that section during the next 24 hours. Note: If an extension you added is ruled invalid and unusable, then it is as if that extension was never made. So, you will not be restricted from editing for 24 hours simply as a result of an invalid extension. Only valid extensions impose a 24-hour waiting period on your editing of that game.
  4. Participants may not extend the same game section two times in succession. That is, someone else must extend the section before you may extend that section again. Even if 24 hours have passed since you last extended a game section, you may not extend that chain again until another person, using a different account, has done so. (A sockpuppet account is not another person.)

Game sections[edit]

The contest begins with three game sections, but I will add new sections during December. The rate at which additional game sections are added will depend upon the level of participation. Thus, more participlation → more game sections → more scoring opportunities.

Please, remember to edit only one section at a time. And remember this is about having fun!

Game 1[edit]

Game 2[edit]


Game 3[edit]


Game 3a[edit]

Game 4[edit]


* lockstep (tepees) peesaat 50 Xylophone Players talk 22:37, 11 December 2008 (UTC) Final word would need to start with "ees" SemperBlotto 22:40, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Game 5[edit]

Orange and white parol.JPG

Game 6[edit]

ChristmasCrackers 2.jpg

Game 7[edit]


Game 8[edit]


Game 9[edit]


Game 10[edit]

My Camera Pics of Winter 011.jpg

Game 11[edit]

Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides Plant 2000px.JPG

Game 12[edit]


  • The contest closes at the end of 24 December (23:59:59 UTC). The results will be posted after the close of the contest.
    • I claim 1075 points, and a place on the podium. --Jackofclubs 20:22, 25 December 2008 (UTC)
    • I claim 1150 points, and a gold medal. --Daniel. 16:51, 28 December 2008 (UTC)


  • You may argue about the rules here (and nowhere else please). --EncycloPetey 04:09, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
For those of us who deal primarily in non-Latin scripts, could you allow the official Wiktionary transliterations as entries? So, perhaps zenith (Ithakos) kosmos -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 05:49, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm... perhaps, but the example you gave would be invalid, since there is an extra "a" in "ithakos" The interposing word cannot have extra letters not part of the preceding or following word. If other people favor allowing official transcriptions (for languages that have a page on Wiktionary describing this), then I'll adjust the rules accordingly. --EncycloPetey 05:54, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I'd agree with this, but one question: since CFI already allows for romaji entries would they be allowed regardless? 50 Xylophone Players talk 21:34, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Japanese romaji entries and Chinese pinyin entries already use the Roman alphabet, and so are allowed regardless. --EncycloPetey 17:41, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
At this point, since three people have explicitly or implicitly expressed a desire to allow transcription, use of transcription will now be allowed provided that there is an "About" page for the language that unambiguously indicates how words in that language should be transcribed. This may be a transcription table located on Wiktionary, or merely a pointer to a page off-site that decribes such a system. Please use {{term}} to display the non-Latin word and its transcription. --EncycloPetey 17:46, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
To clarify: does "unambiguously" mean that Hebrew isn't allowed, because its "About" page gives a default transcription but allows certain alternatives in certain cases? (Not objecting either way, just want to be sure.) Also, relatedly: apostrophes, hyphens, backticks, okinas, etc. — all ignored, right? Like spaces and diacritics? (I ask because people have already been playing that way, and it seems logical.) —RuakhTALK 17:59, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I think Hebrew's not allowed anyway, as its About page has the Note: this is still up for discussion — see Wiktionary talk:About Hebrew#Romanization — and should not be regarded as policy. So the page doesn't "unambiguously describe[] how to transcribe the language's script" at all. Mho.—msh210 18:48, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Although labelled as "still up for discussion", About:Hebrew is a stable page. Most of the "About" pages have not yet been adopted as official, and permitting use of transcription in the competition will (hopefully) re-stimulate interest in improving them. The About:Hebrew talk page does not show any objections to the posted system. So, that system may be used for purposes of this competition (even if not yet adopted universally for Wiktionary) ... provided that vowels are used in the transcriptions. To answer Ruakh's other question: Yes, diacritical-like marks and punctuation-like marks are ignored. However, vowel markings in non-Latin scripts are not ignored. --EncycloPetey 19:18, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Could the gamesmaster please strike through any invalid entries (explaining why). Any valid entries added to an invalid one should, I suppose, be allowed to stand. SemperBlotto 09:24, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, Polyglot's addition to game 1 has two extra letters in the intervening word. Do we strike that and continue from the preceeding line? Robert Ullmann 11:49, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I tried to fix my entry, but after rereading I don't think it was invalid after all.
Do note that interposing words must be at least six letters long, in order to contain both the final three letters of the preceding word as well as at least three other letters to begin the following word.
So the interposing word doesn't have to be six letters in length, if I understand correctly. --Polyglot 14:08, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
the interposing word must have at least six letters - but (3) does not leave "unused" letters from the interposing word that are not used in either the preceding or following words. So it was invalid. SemperBlotto 14:13, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I can see clearly now. Sorry for the mess and thanks for explaining. --Polyglot 14:18, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Note that you also skipped a step. each line starts with the same word the previous line ends with.
* fledged (gedaan) aanbreng
would have been fine. EP, can you please sort out what is valid (I think only the preceding steps), remove the rest, and we can continue? Robert Ullmann 14:21, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I should have paid more attention and maybe held off for a little longer, observing what others did before participating. Didn't want to disrupt anything. Anyway, Wiktionary has two more entries, so at least some good came of it. --Polyglot 14:35, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Polyglot's dubious entry contains a valid expansion, even if it is not correctly formatted and includes an "extra" word. I'm going to reformat that line, and we'll continue from there. The invalid section will be preserved below the game as a false trail. Also, given the popularity in just the first day, I'll also start a 4th game now. --EncycloPetey 15:54, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
If Polyglot's entry had not contained a valid extension, then I would have taken the first suitable alternative extension offered that did have a proper extension. --EncycloPetey 15:57, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
  • If you spot an expansion that you suspect is invalid: tag the end of that expansion line with CHALLENGE and your signature. You or someone else may then propose a replacement expansion as a fork (marked as such) well below the final entry on the false trail. This alternate fork may then grow as usual. The two forks will be treated independently until the fork is resolved, so a participant may add to either one (for purposes of the editing restrictions) as if the other fork did not exist. Any expansions on a fork that is ruled a false trail will not count for scoring, so it will be worthwhile to check previous expansion lines for validity before continuing the chain. --EncycloPetey 18:21, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

What do we count eth as? D? T-H? —RuakhTALK 15:31, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I think Game 2 has reached its end, unless we accept that ð is equivalent to d. Shall we? Bogorm 15:34, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
    Let's call ð equivalent to d, yes. Capital edh looks like a capital D with a slash through it ( Đ ), which in Croatian is actually a different letter with a lower case form like this: đ. so, to avoid potential complicataions, we'll say that an edh is equivalent to d. --EncycloPetey 15:54, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Does the 24hr rule still apply if you have made a false trail entry? -- ALGRIF talk 17:11, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
No, and (interestingly) I was adding that information to the editing restrictions section as you posted your question! Also, if you suspect a false trail is in the makings, you may establish a fork in the chain and treat each fork separately (adding to each fork as if it were a separate game) until a ruling is made. Hopefully, such false trails will not occur as often once participants have had a few days' practice. Learning the rules of a new game takes time. --EncycloPetey 17:21, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Note: I have added one more scoring rule. I was hesitant to include it before I knew what level of participation this competition would have:
    • +25 if you successfully extend a chain that has not been extended in the previous 72 hours (3 full days). The +25 is in addition to the score of the extension itself. --EncycloPetey 18:40, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Probably not necessary, but perhaps theoretically interesting: should there be a rule to prevent loops (e.g. reuse of same word)? Berber could be a particularly direct one. Equinox 23:42, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Re-using the word Berber like that would score fewer points than some alternatives, so let's burn that bridge when we come to it (as a friend of mine used to say). --EncycloPetey 00:02, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

What does ash (the ligature of a and e) count as? 50 Xylophone Players talk 23:55, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

It counts as 10 points for me! Equinox 00:00, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
The letter ash (æ) is equivalent to "ae" for purposes of this competition". --EncycloPetey 00:05, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • A request: In order to allow for greater community participation, could contributors please refrain from generating very difficult endings on the first day of any new game. Ta. SemperBlotto 10:36, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
    True, but that doesn't seem to have been a serious problem thus far. I even know of one editor who deliberately revised his explansion to facilitate play for everyone else. Thus far, only Game 1 and Game 5 seem to have stalled (and I'm surprised about that, as I know one of those can be played). The next player in either of those games has an opportunity to earn a +25 bonus for extending a game that hasn't been played for 72 hours. --EncycloPetey 19:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
    You know one of them can be played? Hm. Perhaps I should add العوينات to Wiktionary:Requested entries:Arabic....—msh210 20:09, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
    I can now reveal that it was Game 5 that I knew could be played, off of nguruwe. There are perfectly good Polish verbs like uwędzić ("to smoke") and uwęglać ("to carbonify; become coal"). Both of these conjugate, so a variety of endings is possible for play. --EncycloPetey 20:54, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Shall we now split Game 6 into Game 6 proper and Game 6a similarly to Game 3? Bogorm 11:40, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
    No. Unlike games 3/3a, this was not an early mistake that went uncaught. The problem was caught quickly, and I notified the contributor of the false trail within 3 minutes of his play. --EncycloPetey 18:22, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Taking up SB's request for easier starts; I was wondering if you could start a new trail with a special rule, where, if there is no further entry in 72 hours, then the entry is disallowed UNLESS the participant who put the last entry can continue the trail themselves, (earning 25 bonus points, of course). Just an idea, for those of us who just want some fun. -- ALGRIF talk 14:54, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
    Well, only a couple of the games seem to have stalled for more than a day, so it may not be such a critical issue, and I do intend to continue starting new games at irregular intervals as well. But the biggest issues are that (1) requiring someone to be able to play after themselves runs contrary to the "you can't play twice in succession", and (2) it opens the door to the replacement play earning a bonus, simply through the disqualification of an "unplayable". I think the proposal would create additional problems while solving only one, and the one doesn't seem like such a big problem. --EncycloPetey 20:49, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

False trail? If the "4" is a tone marker, then the interposing word is not long enough by the competition rules. Also ng4 may not qualify as a "word". Opinions? --EncycloPetey 20:28, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

I think ng4 counts as a word: any entry does. But I'll agree the words are not long enough.—msh210 20:45, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The entry for ng4 says it has no meaning of its own, which is one requirement in our definition of word. Not all entries on Wiktionary are words, such as or pre-. --EncycloPetey 21:12, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


I think that scoring should be done by any competitor who thinks he may have won; this will ease the burden on the emcee, who must then merely verify the claim of the competitor claiming the most points.—msh210 20:37, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

I set up the scoring to be easy to tally through quick visual inspection, but at the end of the competition will gratefully accept offers to help and double-check. At the close of the competition, only the highest few scores will be listed. There is, of course, no need to (potentially) embarrass low-soring participants, who simply wanted to have a little fun through participating in a small way. It's clear from the competition's edit history that some participants are trying to achieve a high score, while others are just playing only a little bit, solely for the fun and challenge offered. --EncycloPetey 20:51, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • RRoDing (Inge-Lise, Ingelise) Eliseo — Are these two interposing words any different of each other, for purposes of scoring points? --Daniel. 13:50, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
    These appear to be spelling variants of the same word, not different words. The rules award points for "each additional interposing word". If these had been in different languages, or had different meanings, then they would certainly both score. However, they are both Danish and have the same definition, so no, they are not different from each other for purposes of scoring points. Now, if one of the entries legitimately grows a new language section or an additional definition, then both words would score. --EncycloPetey 18:18, 5 December 2008 (UTC)