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CamelCase, originally known as WikiWords, and grammatically known as 'medial capitals', is the archaic but historically highly important term identifying the ability to create an internal link to another page on early wiki sites; by removing the space between two (or more) words which began with capital letters. At the time, it was an inspired and revolutionary way of thinking for technology; "What is the simplest thing we can do to make this work?", to paraphrase Ward Cunningham (the creator of the wiki). CamelCase is very important for 'LinkLanguage'; that is: writing and adding links easily to your writing, whilst maintaining clarity of an otherwise easily confusable link. Ward has commented that instead of adding ten characters to make a link, he took away one. John Abbe retorted that you have to shift (on the keyboard) for each word capitalised.
The term 'CamelCase' is derived from the visual similarity of the humped appearance of the WikiWords link – to that of the double-humped Bactrian camel (not to be confused with the single-humped dromedary camel).
Modern wiki syntax
Moving forward into todays' 'wiki world', the now highly popular and ubiquitous MediaWiki wiki engine was developed from UseMod Wiki; and, because it was developed for use on an encyclopedia, where proper spelling, word spacing, and grammatical structure are of high importance; the use of CamelCase to create internal links was phased out, and is completely deprecated in MediaWiki for creating internal links to other articles within the wiki in question. Instead, in order to create an internal link, one must enclose the word or words of a wanted link in double square brackets:
[]. This became colloquially known as a 'wikilink', and has now been accepted by all subsequent wiki engines as the de-facto standard of creating internal links to other pages within the same wiki.
Likewise, WikiIndex (which also runs on MediaWiki) does not (and can not) use CamelCase to create links. There is, however, some sentiment (and practice) that CamelCase should be used here on WikiIndex when creating categories and / or templates which contain two or more words; such as category: LoginToEdit or template: Multilingual main. Unfortunately, in some cases, neither convention is consistently followed, even among sub-categories of the same category! It may be observed here on WikiIndex that our founding fathers still have an unrelenting favour for the use of CamelCase; whilst to some of the newer, younger WikiIndex folk, CamelCase might seem like a foreign language!
Problems with CamelCase
It should be noticed from the lead paragraph that CamelCase links can only work on written languages derived from Alphabet-based scripts, such as Latin or Roman text, which use upper- (capital) and lower-case letters. For non-Latin/Roman scripts; such as Abjad-based Arabic, or logogram / logographic-based scripts such as Chinese scripts (none of which use capital letters) – these are not be able to use CamelCase.
Another problem with CamelCase, as displayed, is that it can cause inaccuracies, or even failures when using online machine translators to translate, say English texts using CamelCase into other languages, even those using Roman-based script. Furthermore, for those wikis which can utilise CamelCase links, the feature will create inadvertent links with phrases that have internal capital letters, such as Paul McCartney (turning his surname into an unwanted wikilink).
- ↑ An example of a confusing link which should have used LinkLanguage was a Twitter 'hashtag': #nowthatcherisdead. This was mistakenly confused and thus reported (inaccurately) that the famous US pop singer Cher had died, presumably from a misconstrued #NowThatCherIsDead! The hashtag was actually intended to promulgate the news of the death of Margaret Thatcher, a former British Prime Minister, and thus would have been better stylised #NowThatcherIsDead.
- CamelCase — at WikiWikiWeb
- CamelCase — at Meatball Wiki
- CamelCase — on WikiMatrix, via Archive.org
- CamelCase — at English Wikipedia
- CamelCase — at Everything2.com, a personal commentary by StrawberryFrog and others on the history and implementation of CamelCase