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Besides the overuse of badly wikilinked jargon, one of the most frustrating thing about articles on en.Wikipedia is when the editor can’t be bothered to wikilink or explain the most primary words.

Today’s Featured Article is Fanno Creek, an article about a 15-mile stream in the Portland, Oregon area. Let’s see how much jargon no-one bothered to wikilink or explain to the readers.

tributary — “A tributary[1] … is a stream or river that flows into a main stem (or parent) river or a lake.[3] A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river serve to drain the surrounding drainage basin of its surface water and groundwater by leading the water out into an ocean or sea.”

confluence — “In geography, a confluence is the meeting of two or more bodies of water. Also known as a conflux,[1] it refers either to the point where a tributary joins a larger river, called the main stem, or where two streams meet to become the source of a river of a new name…”

Fanno Creek, by the way, is a tributary of the Tualatin River, which is a tributary of the Willamette, which is a major tributary of the Columbia. All those places where you have confluences in the article are places where the Fanno and the subsequently larger tributaries are joining up to even bigger streams, and then the waters continue in the new stream, until they reach the Columbia which dumps them into the Pacific Ocean (part of the Sea).

The jargon in science articles can be written out of en.Wikipedia articles, or it can be used, explained, and appropriately linked. I generally think some combination of the two approaches would work best for en.Wikipedia to create both readable and robust articles that convey the science, while enriching the reader’s ability to tackle more in-depth works on the topic. But if you use the jargon without linking or explaining, then you just annoy readers.

watershed — “A drainage basin or watershed (North American English usages) is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point at a lower elevation, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean. For example, a tributary stream of a brook which joins a small river, which is tributary of a larger river is thus part of a series of successively smaller area but higher elevation drainage basins (watersheds).”

This is an important word to wikilink because watershed is used differently in North American English than in other dialects. Should British readers just guess its meaning?

main stem — “In hydrology, a main stem is “the primary downstream segment of a river, as contrasted to its tributaries”.[1]

Well, that’s a little confusing; maybe it’s best “main stem” is not wikilinked.

stream gauge — “A stream gauge, stream gage or gauging station is a location used by hydrologists or environmental scientists to monitor and test terrestrial bodies of water.”

streamflow — “Streamflow, or channel runoff, is the flow of water in streams, rivers, and other channels, and is a major element of the water cycle. It is one component of the runoff of water from the land to waterbodies, the other component being surface runoff. Water flowing in channels comes from surface runoff from adjacent hillslopes, from groundwater flow out of the ground, and from water discharged from pipes. The discharge of water flowing in a channel is measured using stream gauges or can be estimated by the Manning equation. The record of flow over time is called a hydrograph. Flooding occurs when the volume of water exceeds the capacity of the channel.”

While there are others, I think linking the major jargon, hydrology terms in an article on a stream that discusses its hydrology, is helpful to readers. Not linking it is as bad as incorrectly linking it. It’s an on-line encyclopedia. Figure it out.

This is also another time where the editors just left the information out; probably because they could not figure it out. The stream appears to have native cutthroat. Could you provide a subspecies? Is it Oncorhynchus clarki clarki? Don’t tell me the common name of a species and fail to link to the correct species. There is only one beaver native to North America. Why not link to that beaver? Which opossum, which spotted skunk? And why do you say “Douglas squirrel” and link to the species, but then say “Townsend’s chipmunk,” but don’t link to that instead of the genus chipmunk?

Is this really the best of en.Wikipedia? Do you really know what you’re writing?

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