A decades-old computer programer habit, when packaging up multiple files together in a folder, is to add a very simple .txt file named ‘read me’ or similar.
Anything the buyer or user needs to know, in order to make the software function, i.e. which of the other enclosed files to click on first, is explained in the read me.txt file.
Simple, but effective. Assuming people read the ‘read me’ file, which I’m guessing that most of us don’t.
Incidentally, the file to click on first is probably the one ending in .exe, which is a file format that will actually DO something, rather than, say, contain graphic elements or styling information.
Wikipedia puts it like this “.exe is a common filename extension denoting an executable file (the main execution point of a computer program) for Microsoft Windows.”
And not so incidentally, whenever I visit Wikipedia these days I get a message like this one:
We ask you, humbly: don’t scroll away.
Hi reader, this Friday, for the 8th time recently, we ask you to defend Wikipedia’s independence. Thanks to the 2% of readers who donate, Wikipedia remains open to all. If Wikipedia has given you €2 worth of knowledge, take a minute to donate to keep it thriving for years. Show the editors that their work matters. If you are one of our rare donors, we warmly thank you.
For the eighth time? Oh wow. They keep asking me for money, yet I manage to ignore them, despite actually thinking that Wikipedia is a great cause, and even having access to a company credit card so not having to dig deep into my own pocket.
Either I am extremely lazy, then, very mean (though as it wouldn’t be my money, it’s probably not that), rather busy, or… and it probably IS this, it’s the ‘humbly’ in the title that is putting me off. Along with the paltry €2 being asked for. I betcha Donald Trump would never ask for $2, and certainly not humbly. I betcha also that he gets more donations than Wikipedia does, poverini. Is there justice in the world? OF COURSE NOT.
OK, here’s what we’ll do.
For every club member that leaves a comment on this article saying how Wikipedia has helped or informed them, I’ll send a €5 donation, up to a maxiumum of €100, or £, or whatever.
If none of you can be bothered to leave a comment (visit the website, find this article, scroll down to the end, your email address is required but won’t be published), then I’ll make no donation, on the grounds that you guys are just as lazy as I am. At least until the Wikipedia people get themselves a copywriter with some balls, anyway.
And in the unlikely event that there are more than 20 comments (from different club members, mind) I’ll consider upping the maximum donation. It’s the club’s money, and probably tax-deductible.
N.b. Emailing me doesn’t count. I get enough emails already. I want COMMENTS on the website, in return for the donation (visit the website, find this article, scroll down to the end, your email address is required but won’t be published). OK?
Why? Because comments show the world that the club website is still alive, that there are people who value it, whereas emails to me simply add to the pile of stuff I have to get through today, or over the weekend.
Where were we? Ah yes, ‘read me’.
So anyway, I was short of ideas this morning and thought I’d try out something that I’ve been mulling over for a while. That I occasionally, or perhaps regularly, post a link to something on another website, and suggest that club members have a go at reading it (in Italian, obviously).
Why? Because many of you won’t, otherwise. But if I can encourage just a few of you to give reading authentic articles a try, who knows, you might make it a habit. And then your learning will be accelerated, and then we will all feel good.
Here we go then: one of the websites I look at on my phone before getting out of bed in the morning is RaiNews.it. It’s free, with no registration required, and is reasonably reliable and unbiased, unlike most of Italy’s ‘proper’ newspaper sites, which are over-expensive and often hard to make head or tail of.
There are lots of articles on RaiNews.it that I’d read if I had time today, and so may or may not have suggested that you do, too. However, because I am rather pushed this morning, I’ve gone for something short, with pictures:
Benvenuta Priscilla, la cammellina appena nata al Bioparco di Roma.
Read me. Or at least look at the pictures.
Animal mums with their spring newborns – what’s not to like?
A lunedì, allora.
On Wednesday I was so busy ranting I completely forgot to try to flog this week’s half-price ‘eBook of the Week’ offer. Sorry. Here’s a cut and paste from Monday’s article, to make ammends:
Giacomo works as an electrician for the municipality in a small Italian city. He had dreamed of becoming an astronomer but is now happy to devote himself to his family and especially to his young son, Tommaso. Then one day, the boy asks his father why there are so few stars to be seen in the night sky…
Customer reviews, unfortunately everyone seems to have loved it, are here.
Buy Cielo libero, just £3.99 | Free sample chapter (.pdf) | Catalog
N.b. If anyone’s studying another European language besides Italian, we have half-price versions of this story also in German, Spanish and French. But only until Sunday night!
Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news should also be on your ‘read me’ list today.
While I haven’t had time for this one yet, I suspect there are probably no baby camels.
David F says
Daniel, I think this one is probably going to generate the 20 comments you’re looking for! I use Wikipedia a lot and have even donated to it myself. I’ve even used the Italian version from time to time.
Patricia Barber says
Thanks for supporting Wikipedia. I, too, support it. . I believe we should support what we believe in and I believe I send you $50 a year for what I consider my subscription to Easy Italian News. I also read, and listen to the source material when available, and I talk about ONLINEITALIANCLUB to my Italian and French conversation meet-up groups, because I respect and believe in your teaching methods
Claire M says
I inevitably end up using Wikipedia when “googling” something, even if I haven’t set out to do so & there is no doubt it has become a serious resource.
I also really appreciate easyitalian news & your other material.
Elzabeth Cook says
I’m so glad that I found this website. Easy Italian news is a great resource and my weekly Italian lessons are helping me to raise the persistently low ceiling on my Italian
a bit off topic, but 20€
I guess you have successfully “gamified” the Wikipedia challenge 🙂
Well, here writes a translator that just couldn’t imagine what her work would be like if it weren’t for this amazing Wikipedia feature that let’s you switch between the language of a specific article, thus enabling you to gather (generally) trustworthy vocabulary for both language sets.
Waiting for countless other comments;)
Fraukje Hackworth says
Wikipedia is my first go-to site whenever I want to know anything, which is several times a day. A couple of days ago it was “Francesco De Gregori” I looked up – as I read on Easy Italian News that he had turned 70 🙂
Ben Smith says
So happy that you can save WIkipedia on my behalf! Thanks Daniel.
I am still not good enough at italian to make sense of news articles in italian. Maybe I will get there one day. But you are right, the pictures are nice 🙂
Anyway wikipedia has helped me many times, both in regards to technical terms for topics like computer science, cars, and electricity, but also in regards to geographical knowledge on population, history etc. Ooh and also learning about historical figures that are mentioned in TV and movies.
So I ask you humbly please support the great site 🙂
Martin Hawkins says
So you asked for a comment!
I find Wikipedia extremely useful and I do contribute to it. That doesn’t stop them asking me for more, of course.
Good Cause I’m not sure what I’d do without Wikipedia
Roslyn Sorensen says
Yep. Love Wikipedia, Don’t want them to be humble. Wondered what they were going to do with all the $2’s.
Kathy Simpson says
My Italian teacher, who I discovered via one of your sister sites, got me to watch a film about Maria Montessori. To give myself more background information and vocab, I looked up her article on Wikipedia in Italian.
Wendy Hartnell says
I reckon I use Wikipedia every day. – most recently to look up 18th century maskerade balls (I’m reading Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones).
Felice che tu abbia donato a wiki per mio conto e grazie per tutto il pesce (italiano)
Thanks for doing this fundraiser for Wikipedia . I use them daily especially to look up more info on news reports or historical figures or film makers or authors. I support them financially as well.
You benefit a little; Wikipedia benefits a little; I love a win-win promotion…
mark m says
A group of Wikipedia moderators asked me to contribute to two of their pages. I found that Wikipedia was in error as regards almost all the information on the two pages concerned. The moderators in reply started threatening me and I received a number of emails from anonymous sources which were also threatening. I decided that it was best to discontinue contact with them. They deleted almost all of the ‘talk’ I had with them which explained why they were in error. Talking to fellow academics they stay also clear of Wikipedia. The moderators I dealt with felt that they were untouchable and it was not possible to reason with them.
You really want me to donate €5 on your behalf, Mark? Or are you happy enough that I published your comments?
mark m says
Whatever you feel most comfortable with. The general consensus academically is for students and professionals not to use Wikipedia as an information source as it is not verified. I had an open mind as regards Wikipedia particularly when they approached me. However my dealings with them were not pleasant. They were telling me that an editor of a medical dictionary, a couple of psychologists and an A&E doctor in Canada had a better knowledge of a subject that I have been teaching for twenty five years than I did. When I dismantled all their arguments they became very aggressive. Their attitude was they could write what they liked whatever the truth was scientifically.
On the positive side, it has made me write some scientific papers of my own which are due to be published in the Italian peer reviewed scientific literature (Rivista Italiana di Optometria – RIO). I have written the papers in English and they have been translated by my Italian colleagues. One of these colleagues Fabrizio Bonci who has co-written one of the papers with me.
Lara Pastorino says
This is interesting because my experience has also been that it is a bit of a clique and I think also heavily reliant on what is available online. However the tenet of Wiki is open information. Universities have not embraced this concept and it is holding back the whole world. Imagine a world where all research ever published was available on Google. Currently only professionals have access to this information. Imagine if the next young Leonardo Da Vinci had access to that data. A person who perhaps is not from the field of academics. People should take a leaf out of the Wikipedia, and Daniel’s, book in my opinion.
mark m says
Whatever you feel most comfortable with. The general consensus academically is for students and professionals not to use Wikipedia as an information source as it is not verified.
I had an open mind as regards Wikipedia when they approached me. However my dealings with them were not pleasant. They were telling me that an editor of a medical dictionary, a couple of psychologists and an A&E doctor in Canada had a better knowledge of a subject that I have been teaching for twenty five years. When I dismantled all their arguments and scientific references they had cited they became very aggressive. Their attitude was they could write what they liked whatever the truth was scientifically.
On the positive side, it has made me write some scientific papers of my own which are due to be published in the Italian peer reviewed scientific literature (Rivista Italiana di Optometria – RIO). I have written the papers in English and they have been translated by my Italian colleagues. One of these colleagues Fabrizio Bonci has co-written one of the papers with me.
Judy Jacques says
I usually do a small donation to Wikipedia. I find it invaluable and, in these days of universal falsehood, I’d like to help protect Wikipedia if possible.
First time commenting but read your emails always. Thank you for this. Wikipedia is a worthy cause, I too have donated, and find your find your resources very helpful and your personal insights into life in Italy often get me thinking. Keep up the great work! Even if you don’t hear it often enough, what you do is greatly valued. 🙏
Miranda Kenny says
Well – some criticism for Wikipedia, but still a good service for us all generally.
As Daniel also gives a great service for us students of Italian. He’s got me reading and looking at stuff that would pass me by. Thanks! 🌈
I use Wikipedia to check translations for some hardly translatable fenomena. First I find an article in the language of the original name. Then I change the language at the left side of the page to a desired one. And I get an article on the same matter with the translation as a heading and translations of all the associated words in text. Works well when direct translation doesn’t work as expected or the translation is extremely context-dependent.
By the way, nice website 😉
Leslie Ross says
Daniel— I donate every year to Wikipedia ($15). It provides a great service, although embarrassingly I usually use it when doing the crossword! I have been a longtime club member and have been taking on line lessons for 2+ years now. Keep up the good work.
Heather Franklin says
I sometimes use Wikipedia when I am researching something but I usually find other articles as well.
I use Wikipedia a lot – more than I thought I did to be honest. I’ve just looked at the history on my ipad and I can see that in the last 7 days I have looked for information on the films of Vittoria di Sica, UK native Partridges, wild daffodills, the history of threshing boards , background on Singhu Vee (Indian stand=up comedienne) and La Pasqua.
I have donated a small amount in the past but like many of us I see the request and think that I would like to send another small donation but pass it over without actually re donating. Next time I look something up I am going to send another little donation but thank you Daniel for thinking about this and donating something .
Linda J Cooper says
Daniel, I refer to Wikipedia all the time to get quick and complete bios on people and just to increase my general fund of information. It has become my go to encyclopedia and an institution in today’s modern world.
I use Wikipedia a lot while learning languages. It helps me immensely to learn about the culture, geography, history, interesting or/and important personalities ect. conected with a particular language.
Dear Daniel, thans for al§! I usually don´t read your emails from the beginning to the end (you are unbelievably talkative 🙂 ) but they are great and I always enjoy them. 🙂
La storia del camellina era adorabile. Sono stato in grado di leggere la maggior parte delle parole per capirla. I vostri consigli sulla lettura e l’ascolto sono stati utili. Vi ringrazio
Thanks for the feedback, Lynne!
Joyce Carter says
I’ve been using Wikipedia since its early days, and it’s become more and more useful. I use it for general interest, checking details for my writing (specially useful while isolating in lockdown), family history research, examples of vocabulary and usage in other languages I’m interested in – a real go-to first port of call.
Thanks for your various ventures. I enjoy the news, and your emails (though I don’t always agree with you, I see where you’re coming from), and for all the free resources. I joined a local Italuan class which had already been running for 18 months, leaning heavily on my second-language French, and 2 1/2 years on, we’re at the advanced intermediate stage, but I still find gaps in what the others must have covered in the beginner stage when I wasn’t with them. That’s when I dip into your explanations and exercises. They’re much appreciated.
Caroline Thomas says
I agree, Wikipedia is an easy go to especially if you cross reference anything you’re not sure of. And I do donate occasionally but a bit more than the €2 – not worth all the finger tapping for such a small amount! Now off to catch up on my day’s quota of Italian reading. Thank you Daniel.
Patricia Brignall says
I know Wikipedia isn’t always reliable, but it’s a great starting-point, and I support it. I like being able to switch to Italian I
Can’t imagine how I would get by without Wikipedia, both the English and Italian versions are amazing tools for learning (just like the Online Italian Club of course 🤗). My Italian teacher challenges me to read about history in an Italian magazine and as my knowledge of history is dire I invariably dive into Wikipedia in both languages to support my understanding. It’s been an amazingly good source of information about the Italian system of government and Italy’s complex politics too! Worth its weight in gold – los, that might not work too well for a digital platform?
David Hood says
Hi Daniel, I like your cunning plan about donations to support Wikipedia. I do donate from time to time as I rate Wikipedia highly and use it often. So, I’ve just sent them a donation, and when it is boosted by your contribution then their fundraising email has won twice !
I’m a bit short on time for language learning just now but find easyitaliannews.com ideal for a regular injection of Italian to keep the foreign language neurones firing. All the best, David
Roberta Roberta Shields says
Thank you, Daniel. I find your site with lessons, emails, books and easy Italian news nearly as invaluable as Wikipedia, which I do contribute too. The Italian version of Wikipedia has been very helpful for my Italian classes. Thank you for this initiative and may you both keep going from strength to strength! Thank you! Roberta
Linda Walker says
I use wikipedia very frequently – usually in English, but also, from time to time in French and, very occasionally, in Italian. I find the dedication, knowledge and skill of its contributors almost invariably amazing, and so I make a donation every so often – usually in response to a request – to try to say thank you to them. I cannot get over how our lives have been transformed by having so much knowledge at our fingertips.
Your websites are, for me, another important example of this: thank you – especially for Easy Italian News: finding that site really encouraged me to keep going with my Italian at a time when I was feeling it had fallen into a state of irremediable disrepair!
Diane Horban says
Love reading your blog and would like to assist with your cause.
I occasionally use Wikipedia and have donated in the past. I also go to your site very often, your comments make me smile! Oh yes I have online italian lessons too which I enjoy, and following your advice today I went to RAI news and learnt the Duke of Edinburgh had died.( I live in UK)
Tom Torretta says
I use Wikipedia all the time and donate annually myself. I also read your messages and truly appreciate the easy Italian news which still isn’t too easy for me. I am working on building my vocabulary. 🙂
Thanks for your commitment and help!
Tam Fein says
I have used Wikipedia, although not entirely for profound philosophical or highly educational reasons, although sometimes I do look up a question that required some thought on my part, but instead for fun. I have used it to look up Italian slang on more than one occasion, and it makes my day! Thank you Wikipedia for having the answers to my maybe not so educational but highly important questions! Important to me, anyway.
Kathryn D Temple says
I use wikipedia quite a bit and tell my students to use it (but not cite it) as backgrounding, reading it critically, but to go to true peer-reviewed sources for more reliable knowledge (not totally reliable as peer review also has its problems!). I always give them $5 or $10 when asked. 🙂
Found Mark m’s comment interesting and I can certainly verify that some content on Wikipedia is not reliable. But then, is there any source of 100% reliable information always? So, yes you can add 5€ for me but personally I prefer to donate to EasyItalianNews 😉
Golly Daniel. The amounts are stacking up. I hope you can claim some back on tax.:)
Yes, I have used Wikipedia quite a lot …. often looking up films ( I can never remember actors’ names) but my latest search was on La Pasqua (in Italian)
I’m afraid that I guiltily slink away from the donation request – not because of the money or that I don’t think it’s worth it – it just sort of gives me the creeps – that they know I’ve been looking x number of times etc. Not that I’m paranoid or anything …:)
BTW I loved your “The end of the world is nigh!” I can never see exactly what those emojis are supposed to represent and probably send ones that are wildly inappropriate.
Hi Daniel, I (almost) always read your è-mails, respond from time to time and have tried various of your Italian language learning resources. I refer friends to your site as well. Also I do use Wikipedia and I have donated a couple of times as well. Thanks for the challenge – it taught me how to leave comments on your site which I haven’t done before!
Brenda Burton says
I use Wikipedia several times a week and I donate a few dollars twice a year during their fundraising.
Just in the past few days, I’ve looked up Murray Gell-Mann and the Solvay Conference.
200€ THAT’S IT GUYS! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!
Anita Dermer says
In a world where just about everything is for sale to the highest bidder, Wikepedia is, quite simply, a miracle. It’s where I start all my searches, and it rarely disappoints. That’s why I am a donor.
David Slade says
I have mixed feelings on wikipedia, a fair amount of content is a copy and paste from other websites, but I still use it a fair amount. Never donated, I have to admit. I will however, donate to Easy Italian News, which I’m off to listen to now.
I guess it is a generation “thing”, but I have never logged on to Wikepedia .
Donation done, as promised.
I love Wikipedia. It helped my out so many times to get a glance into a theme of any kind. I loved my Brockhaus Lexicon back in the day.
No I go to Wikipedia. I even can use it to learn a bit of other languages, when reading something that I already know about, I switch the language.
WOW! I have regularly used Wikipedia for looking up all sorts and I have also donated, however, having read Mark’ m’s comments above, have seriously begun to have doubts. I have never taken the information provided as gospel but certainly possibly useful.
Plus, I have also contributed (regularly) to EIN. Which reminds me – I need to donate again! I always need reminders!
Hi Daniel, Best wishes. Am ever grateful for the Italian resources you provide. Cheers from Australia!
Margaret Suttop says
Anch’io uso Wikipedia spesso, per preparare presentazioni per le mie lezioni italiani, e anche per molte altre cose.. Ho donato a Wikipedia me stesso qualche volte e sono felice che anche tu donerai.
Mi piace molto il tuo site, sopratutto Easy Italian News. Grazie mille per il tuo lavoro.
Laura B says
So, I’ve been a subscriber, user, follower AND donor since I made a personal commitment to really learn to function in Italian, maybe 3-4 years ago. I don’t take time to comment very often because I keep saying the same thing: I really appreciate the site. It is a source of many great exercises when I discover areas that need work. I love. love. love EasyIntalianNews.com and never (seriously, NEVER) miss an episode. Most importantly, this site led me to my fabulous Italian teacher, Giovanna, who I have faithfully met with online since 2019…we’ve stuck together throughout these weird and scary pandemic times and I am no longer afraid to actually speak Italian. Thank You. Grazie mille!
Yes, I do feel guilty about that! Also for the Guardian…But I do read your emails, or most of them and enjoy your wit and good advice. You also make me feel less guilty for not ‘studying’ Italian grammar much. I live here (in Sicily) and don’t really have to speak that much Italian. I can get by and will make more of an effort to improve. I’m now bored with just getting by and want to have more interesting conversations with the locals here.
I’m even thinking of getting a tv connected. I find the visual element helps when watching Italians rant away on talk show lol.
My internet is currently too slow to stream video so can’t watch Netflix in Italian. I’d like to see ‘My Beautiful Friend.’
do you have foxtel? they had My Brilliant Friend” a while ago – you might be able to stream it